FTC Complaint Filed Against Data Broker BeenVerified Leads to Discussion About Consumer Online Privacy
BOSTON, Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Abine, Inc., a leader in online privacy solutions for consumers announced today that is has filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against BeenVerified.com, one of the largest background check websites and data brokers. Abine has found that consumers who stated their preference to be removed using BeenVerified’s own opt-out system in fact showed up again in its online databases. Abine’s DeleteMe service, which is now fully available at Abine.com, provides consumers with a service to ensure their personal info stays off online databases. In the process of delivering this service, Abine verified these findings and sent them to the FTC.
For consumers to remove their information from BeenVerified, they must email BeenVerified their name (as shown on the site), age, current and previous addresses, and listed relatives. Abine’s subscription service, DeleteMe, sends this email on behalf of consumers to ensure their information is deleted and stays unavailable. In the process of delivering its DeleteMe service, Abine found that although BeenVerified temporarily deleted the consumer’s personal information from its database, they later republished it and sometimes included the updated information provided in the opt-out.
Abine estimates that there are more than 180 websites like BeenVerified, and most have different deletion procedures. These websites sell consumers’ personal information for employee background checks, marketing and advertising, personal uses (such as looking up an ex-spouse’s whereabouts), targeted advertising, and credit reporting, among other uses. Once this information is available, it can lead to identity theft, lost job opportunities, and physical safety threats, making it imperative that consumers have the ability to remove their own data if they choose to do so.
“Similar to the Do Not Call Registry, consumers should have the ability to request their personal information, like address, phone number, email address and more, be unlisted online, and they should be able to trust that their request is respected and fulfilled,” said Bill Kerrigan, CEO of Abine. “Our FTC complaint was filed on behalf of all consumers because we believe that they deserve control over their personal information online.”
BeenVerified states that it obtains its information from various government sources, including birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce proceedings, child support orders, voter registrations, census questionnaires, credit cards, default student loans, corporate filings, lawsuits, mortgages, liens, other real estate transactions, criminal court records, speeding tickets, and immigration documents. It also sends people, referred to as “court runners,” to obtain information directly from courthouses.
“Approximately 40% of online searches are people-related searches,” said Kerrigan. “Data brokers have an immense amount of information on each of us and there need to be tools that give power back to consumers.”
Abine’s tools are designed to do just that. Specifically DeleteMe, currently available at Abine.com, deletes customers’ personal information from many of the largest people search websites that list it, including BeenVerified. The service then monitors the information online to ensure that it doesn’t return, and compiles the information found online in custom reports sent to customers every three months.
With recent funding from leading venture capital firms Atlas Ventures and General Catalyst Partners and an experienced executive team from the fields of online security and privacy, Abine is putting the most high-powered, yet consumer friendly, technology in the hands of consumers. Abine expects the number of consumers using privacy tools to better control the sharing of their personal information to increase by more than 100% in 2012.
Abine provides consumers with Online Privacy solutions that are innovative, easy to use, and actually work. With proven tools, Abine enables people to both benefit from the Web and retain control over their most personal information. Abine is backed by premier venture capital firms Atlas Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. Abine: The Online Privacy Company (TM). Abine.com.
CONTACT: Lisa Langsdorf, 1-212-362-1307, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Abine, Inc.