In less than five seconds, FamilyTreeNow.com accurately listed my age, my birthdate and eight of the last nine addresses where I received mail. It also accurately listed the names, birthdates and addresses of my parents and my brother – all tied to my name.
Disturbingly, FamilyTreeNow.com is totally free and does not even require registration. It gets all of its data from public records.
Nor is it just relatives who might be listed at FamilyTreeNow.com. Washington Post reporter Abby Ohlheiser discovered that the names of a former roommate and her ex-boyfriend were listed as “associates.”
“The site listed my 3- and 5-year-olds as ‘possible associates,’” Anna Brittain, a writer from Birmingham, Ala., told The Post. She said FamilyTreeNow “scared me to death.”
Ohlheiser’s description of FamilyTreeNow as “creepy” seems very accurate. There are other similar sites that scan public records available online, but most of them charge a fee for searches and require registration.
Who Is Behind FamilyTreeNow?
Ohlheiser was not able to determine who was behind FamilyTreeNow.com. She located a company called Family Tree Now LLC, but was unable to find anyone willing to talk.
Opting out of FamilyTreeNow is fairly easy. All you have to do is follow these steps.
- Visit FamilyTreeNow.com/optout.
- Click on the “I’m not a robot” captcha at the bottom of the page.
- Click “begin.”
- Run a search for yourself by entering your name, state and city and age.
- Read the record carefully to make sure it is you.
- Click the big red “opt out” button.
- Visit the site 48 hours later to make sure the information has been deleted.
There is another low-tech way to keep your home address off of sites like FamilyTreeNow. Simply get a mailing address other than your home, such as a P.O. Box.
What is your reaction to FamilyTreeNow.com? Share your thoughts in the section below: