Websites offer up your personal info -

Websites offer up your personal info

It's called "Spokeo" - and its motto is "Not your grandma's phone book."

It's a website that compiles information about you, gathered from public sources like social networking, phone directories, government documents and even real estate listings.

That information can include not only your name, age, and phone number, but it could also list your hobbies, income information - even show pictures and maps of your home.

While this site and many others like it is legal, and says its mission is to help people connect, many people don't even know it exists - let alone that their information is on it.

FBI Special Agent Gordon Hurley says sites like Spokeo can be useful. The problem, however, is not everyone wants your information for legitimate purposes.

"Unfortunately, this kind of information can be used for bad where someone can get a citizen's information and use it to defraud them or take their money or commit some kind of scam," he says.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., and agent Hurley says that's largely due to the internet. "Someone's identity can be stolen in the middle of the night. You may not even know it for 6 months, and before you know it, thousands of dollars have been taken. No alarm went off, no police car showed up - bottom line, law enforcement didn't know about it."

So what can you do?

To start, if you don't want your information on these sites, take the steps to get it off. Most will tell you how to do it somewhere on their site.

To get your information removed from Spokeo, first click on the privacy tab at the bottom of their homepage. It takes you to a screen that walks your through the steps.

Now you will need to do this for every profile you want removed. If there are multiple listings, it may take some time - but Special Agent Hurley says it's well worth it.

"It's kind of like when you leave your house everyday, you lock the doors. When you leave your car at the mall parking lot, you make sure it's locked. Now we have to make sure we lock our internet, too," he adds.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.


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