I’ve recently been receiving a rash of emails in my spam folder that really pisses me off. They’re not only slanderous but also a defamation of my character. I’m sure many of you out there have received the same or similar emails. But did you know these companies are violating our rights and the law?
They start off by stating that my background has been checked, by whomever, and that they are appalled at the information they found about me. Now, of course, I know this is spam and that it’s some idiot’s attempt for me to fall for their stupid attempt to get me to pay for whatever it is they’re trying to sell. Whether it be to pay to get this appalling report, or pay to have them corrected. Either way, I’m not paying for bullshit, that isn’t true, just to have this “trumped up” slander removed from whatever site they claim it’s reported on.
What really has me boiling are the sites that claim you can perform background checks on anyone and get the full “scoop on millions of Americans, even more information than googling them.” They claim it “aggregates hundreds of millions of publicly available criminal, traffic, and arrest records and posts them online so they can easily be searched by anyone. Members of the site can literally begin searching within seconds, and are able to check as many records as they like (think: friends, family, neighbors, etc. etc.).” By becoming a member you get a free 14 day trial, which means you sign up by giving your personal information and your credit card. What you’re not told up front, unless you read the Terms of Agreement, is that if you do not cancel within those 14 days your credit card is automatically charged a three-month Membership Fee, and subsequently every three months until proper procedure is followed to terminate yet membership. One site charges $99.00 for a three-month subscription. Try to get that refunded back to you! You’ve already agreed to the terms when you signed up. Your also agreeing that the information you obtain from their site cannot be used for employment background, financial credibility, stalking or harassment purposes. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to for what other purposes would you pay $33.00 a month to get “the scoop” on people you want to check on? The email I received from them is harassing, is it not? If a stranger said to you that they checked your background and was appalled at what you did, wouldn’t that be harassing or threatening or slanderous, and it’s an invasion of your privacy.
Yes…criminal, traffic, and arrest records are made public to begin with, but not addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers or other personal information. Even the telephone company can not post your phone number if you opt it to be private. If I wanted to do a background check on a perspective employee, I would need to have a release form signed by that person giving their permission to do so. I’ve not signed nor have I given the “millions of Americans” nor any company, permission to perform a background check on me, let alone given my permission to any company or business to collect or publicize any personal data on myself for the and offering such information to “paying Members” for the purpose of making a profit.
What about our Right to Privacy? Who are these companies that are collecting and storing all this personal information in a data bank and offering it to anyone willing to pay exuberant recurring monthly fees, and just how accurate is the information they supposedly gathered on the “millions of Americans”? It’s bad enough our own government collects various types of information about us to use for whatever purpose they desire, but fly-by-night e-companies?
Hell, if you have a family member hospitalized you can’t even find out how they were doing without having their Power Of Attorney. Your not asking for a diagnosis or prognosis! Yet these companies can utilize fear tactics to con people to becoming members due to making people think erroneous information may be being posted about them.
According to the Privacy Act of 1974, Section b: Conditions of Disclosure, about records maintained on individuals states: “No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a “system of records” by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains. The term “system of records” means a group of any records under the control of any agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual. Therefore these websites that are offering this information for profit, and utilizing spamming and slander, and fear inducing emails to con “millions of Americans” are operating illegally according to the Privacy Acts guidelines.
These type of e-companies and e-commerce sites need to be reported and complaint letters written and State Legislators requesting they be investigated, operations ordered to cease, and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
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