SCAM ALERT: Criminals using people search sites to gain access to sensitive information

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– White-collar crime is becoming more popular around the world.

People are being scammed out of money through e-mail and websites, finding fraudulent charges on their cards, or even having their identity stolen.

But now criminals have found an easier way to access your information; in some cases, all they need is your first and last name.

FOX21 News took a look at ThatsThem.com and unfortunately, it’s just one of many sites that reveal personal information.

But luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself. That’s why we’re revealing some of the websites criminals are using.

Thatsthem.com is a free people search service that’s extremely easy to navigate.

All you need is a person’s first and last name or the vehicle identification number from their windshield – and with one click, you’ve got their past and present phone numbers and addresses.

“These companies specialize in data mining…They do a comprehensive search of all public records that are just out there,” Detective Michael Flynn with Colorado Springs Police Financial Crimes Unit said. “They also do commercial database searches and deep web searches, and they do all of that in just minutes.”

Thatsthem.com does it in seconds.

But for some individuals, the information doesn’t stop there.

We also found people’s level of education, how much money they make, and even whether or not they own pets.

But Detective Flynn says it’s hard to hide on the Internet.

“We’re just in the information age today where it’s difficult to protect your sensitive information,” he said. “Any repository that has personal or financial information of people is always subject to attack for the wrong reasons.”

If the criminals are willing to pay, it could cost you.

Subscriptions to sites like Thatsthem.com allow access to court records, family members, and much more.

“It’s a matter of privacy. I mean, there is a price for your privacy. People are willing to pay to get that,” Mark Barsocchini of Colorado Springs said.

Barsocchini says he makes every effort to clear his name from these websites.

“It can be a scary place to live in the world and so taking the steps to make sure that you’re not advertising yourself is a really good way to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of,” he said.

Barsocchini says he searches his name often, and if he finds something he doesn’t like, he calls the company himself.

“When it comes right down to it, it’s not paranoia, it’s just protection,” he said. “As much as we share these days, we are completely negligent as to what we’re doing.”

Police say making the effort to clean your name is relatively easy and can help protect you from white-collar crime.

“If you’re a little concerned about people accessing your information, I recommend you contact that particular company, search engine, and see if they have an opt-out,” Detective Flynn said.

Most of them do have opt-out forms that take a few minutes to fill out.

But Barsocchini and Detective Flynn say the time and effort it takes to clear your name is nothing compared to the trouble it could cause you in the future.

“You’re the first line of defensive for yourself,” Detective Flynn said.

“Most people don’t want to put the effort into figuring out what am I doing and how is it negatively or positively impacting me?” Barsocchini said. “If you put that effort in, you don’t get taken advantage of.”

We put dozens of names into the website and found information on well over half of them. However, it didn’t work as well on young adults.

We were able to find much more information on older, more established people.

Other websites criminals are using include:

  • Spokeo.com
  • Instantcheckmate.com
  • Peekyou.com
  • Peoplefinder.com
  • Anywho.com

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