Saturday, August 04, 2007

How Easy Would it be to Find You?

Okay, so many people have thought about how to go about finding people, but how would someone go about finding you? Have you ever done a vanity search on Google using your own name? It’s very interesting what you can find on yourself just by doing a search on your name. The interesting part is when you try to find yourself by not using your name. This is probably a very new concept to quite a few people. Vanity searches are becoming more popular as people realize just how much information is available on the web, not only on others – but on themselves. Your identity is sensitive, but some personal information is easily accessed through online search engines and databases.

Try typing your phone number into Google, Yahoo, or another search engine. I recommend using Google, since it is the most widely used, and probably the search engine that most sites try to get their website indexed within. Try a previous phone number, or one of your past addresses – even your current address. You may be surprised. For some people, they will come up with nothing. Others may find that the search results return a huge number of hits that are an exact match for your identity.

ZabaSearch is a great testing medium, as it is free, and produces a fantastic amount of information on people. Type in your name and see what you come up with. Be aware though, for many people this can be extremely shocking and worrisome, as the search results are incredibly thorough and revealing. It has created quite a bit of controversy among identity theft prevention activists, which is understandable. Most people are unaware of how easy their information can be pulled up on the internet, for free.

This information is gathered into online databases through public records, information sold through advertisers, and opt-in email systems. Also, when you move, if you submit a change of address through the postal service, your information may be sold or provided to others legally. This is common practice, as businesses build their contacts lists, mailing lists, and “safe” email lists.

If a person was to try to find you through a search company, such as PeopleFinders or ZabaSearch, you would turn up in the records due to this buying and selling of personal information that commonly occurs. Try a few different websites, and see how easy you are to find. Perhaps you want to make yourself more available if you have people who you know are interested in finding you. On the other hand, for some people – this information can be nerve wracking if you don’t want to be found. People who have been in abusive situations may want to find out how easy they can be found in order to protect themselves, and the internet is a great place to start. Finding out how easy you are to find can really open your eyes, and cause you to see things in a whole new way, and find ways to protect your sensitive information!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

You Don't Need a Private Investigator to Find People Anymore

How to find people using internet resources, instead of hiring an expensive private investigator.

read more | digg story

YouTube for finding old friends

Learn how you can use YouTube to find people and friends from the past.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Creating and Claiming Your Online Identity

Kevin Poulsen, creator of Onxiam, found that he was constantly explaining to people, “On [this website] I am [this name]." This was getting tiresome, and I thought that there just had to be a better way of promoting myself to my friends, my family and to the online world as a whole.” He thought there had to be a better way to connect, without having to recite multiple usernames and identities for people to find him.

There are quite a few different concepts popping up recently, all geared towards managing your online identities. Having multiple online identities in one place would make it easier to find people, as well as adding convenience for people who use multiple social networking sites. sites like Findmeon and claimID offer to manage your online identity.

When internet users surf the net, not much damage is done to your online reputation. However, for those who choose to participate in online discussions such as message boards and blogs, permanent records are being created of everything that is written. It’s best to be conscious of what you write, because it may not be easily removed from cache files from search engines like Google. But it’s not all bad. Chances are, it will make finding people, such as past loves, friends and family members, just that much easier.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to Run a Business Search and How the Information is Used

Much of what you would want to know about a business can be learned online. How the information is used is up to the researcher. But there are some very common uses for the information that you can pull up in a business report, and some of them are very handy to the right person. If you find yourself needing to know more about a company’s history, a business search just might be what you’re looking for. They are easy to obtain, and could help save your business thousands of dollars.

Most of the basic company information for just about any business can be found online, such as the name, address, and phone number, as well as in a local directory or phone book, or by calling 4-1-1. But the basic information is limited, and some of the more detailed information can only be found when you do further research, including running a business search on the company. The search should return more complex data, possibly information such as the physical description of the building that the business is located in, and the corporate filing status and information. You can generally find out who the controlling officers or agents within the company, as well as the owner’s name.

Running the search is fairly easy, especially if you already have the basic information. By entering the information into a database query form, you can easily sort through the initial results and choose a report that has the type of information you are looking to return in the final results. Most reports are available instantly, helping you make good use of your time. This information was not always available online, and in the past was much harder to track down. The online databases have made it simple and quick to retrieve information on just about any business or corporation.

But what can you do with the information once you have it in your hands? Probably one of the most common reasons businesses are checked is to establish credibility. But sometimes it is used for collection of unpaid bills, assessing a company’s credit, or to find out the owner of a DBA. Another common use is to determine how long a company has been in business.

Over the past decade, it has become extremely common for small businesses to start up, rack up thousands of dollars in unpaid product charges, and then simply shut down, leaving the unpaid bills behind. They can then easily start up another company, selling the products at 100% profit. It is quite common now for companies to protect themselves by requiring that anyone asking for credit with a business must be checked through a business search first, and determine how long they have been in business, as well as their track record.

While most of the more commonly used information can be found using databases like PeopleFinders, you can really get into the details about a company or corporation by utilizing other business resources and tools. There are quite a few available through PeopleSearch, and a complete set of tools to fit your needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

YouTube for Finding Old Friends?

Did you know that you could actually use social networks or photo and video sharing sites to locate people from your past? It doesn’t normally occur to people that the sites could be useful in finding people, but they are actually a great tool in finding current information. Some sites are even offering to combine online social networking identities, which could even make it easier to use when searching for a person.

As far as YouTube, I stumbled across a couple of old friends, simply by accident. It may sound a little strange, and I wasn’t actually looking for my old friends from high-school, but there they were on YouTube. I’ll spare them the embarrassment of sharing the video and we’ll just say it was late-night karaoke, and leave it at that! Interestingly enough, the video was taken at a local area hotspot, and it let me know that they still lived in the old neighborhood. I wouldn’t have guessed finding friends on YouTube could be so easy, but hey, if it works, it’s a great tool to use when initially starting a search. Start with first and last names, combinations of first names of friends or relatives. In my case, it would have been found under the first names of the two singing sisters. It sounds like a long-shot, but it just takes a few moments to search, and could be worth the time.

Once I had the sister’s names and where I believed they were located, I would actually begin to search for them using databases. I would run an initial search using a database website like Zaba Search or People Finders, and see if the results match up to anything remotely familiar. If so, then I could purchase the full page reports, each showing exactly how to get in contact with them again. Many results show up to 20 years of address history, making it very easy to match up the dates that you knew them, and contact them at their current location.

Many different types of information show up on some of the reports, and can be very useful if you are in need of finding a relative. In the case of the YouTube find, two of the women in the video are sisters. Since there was a link to someone’s username, and from their profile I was able to find a MySpace page. From there, I was able to find some of their friends, and contact another friend we had in common. Finding people is actually really easy, and once you have determined the general area in which the person is currently located, plug that information into a people search database.

In the past, people relied on paper trails to lead them to a person. Now, in the world of internet and instant information, we can not only follow their paper trail, but their web trail. People use the internet to share pictures, blog, join communities, business, journals, and other things that log a web trail. With this type of internet usage, there are usernames, real names, personal information, interests, and other information that can be accessed by users, and make you – and others, easier to find.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New GPS Technology Can Locate People and Keep Kids Safe

GPS has been in use among the general public for several years, and is most notably used in cell phones and cars. While the technology is said to help find your missing car, it could now be used to find missing people. Isaac Daniel has invented a sneaker that can be used for all sorts of purposes, but the idea came to Daniel after a scare with loosing his son. In 2002, Daniel was out of town when he got the phone call that his son was missing from school. After quickly flying from Atlanta to New York, it was explained to him that it was a misunderstanding, and that his son was fine. But the incident made him realize that a GPS locater could have easily solved the mystery, and saved a lot of stress. When asked what he calls his invention, he says that it is “Peace of mind. We call it a second eye watching over you.” He wears his shoe invention on his morning run, and has tested them on long distance trips, and traced himself to the precise building he was in.

The GPS shoes can be extremely useful for emergencies, but is not really intended to find out if your child is really going where they say, or if you are concerned with your spouse’s whereabouts. It is designed to alert the authorities when it is activated, which can be done by either pressing a button located on the shoe, or remotely by calling the monitoring service, and giving the operators the correct password. This will work to help find a lost or kidnapped child, traveling teens, hikers on mountain climbing expeditions, or Alzheimer’s patients who tend to wander. If any activity is reported to the authorities in the even of a non-emergency, the wearer of the shoes will incur all law enforcement costs, explains Daniel.

The main difference between the sneakers bearing the GPS locator chip and other inventions such as GPS bracelets, watches, wristbands, or phones, would be that shoes just aren’t as easy to lose. The cost of the monitoring service, which provides 24-hour service, is less than twenty dollars a month, which is a small price to pay if you’ve got a wanderer that causes you constant worry.

The original manufacturing count is just 1000 pairs of the limited edition running shoe style, with two silver (activate and deactivate) buttons near the shoelaces. Daniel says there is already 750 pairs ordered. The GPS shoe invention has already peaked interest with makers of military boots, and there is talk of them being used in Colombia and Ecuador. If the idea takes off, it could put a damper on the total number of missing people world-wide.

The problem is, overcoming the cool-factor, says Lee Diercks, managing director of New Jersey-based Clear Thinking Group, an advisory firm for retailers. While the military might be able to successfully implement the technology into their already rugged look, teens and young kids may not find the available styles very compatible with their fashionable attire!

More information about inventor Isaac Daniel and his company Fele Footwear.

Saturday, March 24, 2007 - Website Review

Wink recently launched a company update, Wink Beta 2, with a fresher look for their website, and a new goal in sight: People Search. But not just for searching out names, but rather – identities. Web users are constantly creating new online identities, and Wink is gearing its technology towards recognizing people sharing common interests. This will enable users to create one main profile in which they can manage blogs, personal pages and profiles for websites such as MySpace, Bebo, LinkedIn, Live Spaces, Friendster, and the Web. This, along with user ratings and tagging, is making it easier than ever to find people, as well as user-ranked web search results.

Wink is largely a tag based user-ranked search system, but is now taking people searching to a whole new level. Searching for people will never be the same. Wink started in August 2004 by Michael Tanne, with the goal of integrating user feedback to improve search result. “We know we are trying something really big - and challenging. People can help each other find the best information on the Web, better than machine-based algorithms alone,” Tanne stated in a recent interview. “It just takes a few people who take the time to weigh in with their preferences to create a super experience for everyone else.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - Website Review

ZabaSearch was launched in 2005 by Nicholas Matzorkis, the founder of US Search. After a childhood experience, where young Nick Matzorkis traveled to Greece with his family to reunite with family members which they lost contact with after moving to the United States. Whereas US Search was the first company to bring people locating services to the public at an affordable rate, ZabaSearch is the first company to provide search results for absolutely free.

The website is easy to use, just type in the name you are looking for, and your results are returned in a quick, search engine-like manner. Of course there is the option of pulling up additional information for a small cost, most of the information you would be looking for will turn up in the free results.

Because ZabaSearch is providing such personal information in their free searches, the company has recently become the target of privacy activists and media coverage related to a recent surge in identity theft, even though the company remains innocent of any negative actions. But it isn’t just the general public who uses ZabaSearch, and the company provides services to news agencies, business and real estate professionals, and the government as well. According to Matzorkis, “Government use is over 20 percent. Military is 12 to 13 percent. Department of Homeland Security is around 1 percent of the government portion. Media and news agencies is about 2 to 3 percent.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Searching for People Using Public Records Online

As we make our journey through life, we sign many documents of various types that become public records. These documents are filed typically by the counties in which transactions took place. In larger counties, there are smaller local regional branches that you can walk into and purchase copies of documents within the public records files. This can be any publicly recorded documents, such as real estate transactions, court records, marriage records, birth certificates, and death records. For a small fee, the county recorder can provide copies of certain records to the purchaser. Obtaining or purchasing the public records is not actually the most difficult part of searching for people, the hard part is finding out where the records are located.

read more digg story

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Obtaining Marriage Records Online

You don’t have to travel to the county that the bride and groom tied the knot, or search out directions to the courthouse. In fact, with enough information at hand, you won’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home because many counties actually offer the information online. There are also quite a few websites that can obtain the records for you. But a few key pieces of information might be necessary if you want to make sure that you get the right records. The county where the bride and groom were married is essential in most cases, in order to prevent incorrect results to your search. You would be surprised how many marriage records are similar to yours if you have a common name. There may be a few databases that can search for records in all counties and states, but most of the time you will need a county and state to find the correct records. If you don’t want to purchase over the internet, you can also locate the county records office online, and then send payment and order the records directly from the county. In this case, you will definitely need the names of both the groom and the bride, including the maiden name.

Public records are available right over the internet, but with so many similar names, it’s best to gather as much of the information necessary to distinguish the bride and groom from similarly named people. Jane (who’s maiden name is Smith) marries Bob Johnson and Susan is searching for Jane Johnson. To find the marriage records, Susan would need to know Jane’s maiden name is Smith. The name of the county is necessary in order to purchase the online records. However, if Susan performs a people search on Bob Johnson, a comprehensive report should show that he married Jane, and that her family members all share the common name Smith. Then Susan can order the marriage records with Jane Smith listed as the bride, and Bob Johnson listed as the groom.

The same method can be used when searching for a woman you have lost touch with over the years, because there is a strong possibility that her name has changed over the years. Women can sometimes be the hardest to track once they have been married, so if you only have the groom’s name, this could prove to be a very difficult search. In fact, you may actually need the bride’s maiden name to track down the correct bride and groom. This issue can become quite interesting if the bride has married more than once. In some cases, the woman may opt to keep her married name after a divorce, so knowing which last name she would use on her next marriage certificate can be tough as well. In other cases, the divorce records could mandate that the woman revert to her maiden name after the divorce has been finalized. When you come across a stumbling block, try a different route. If one way doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t frustrate yourself by trying the same thing, hoping for different results.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Using US Newspapers in Genealogical Research

One of the really useful tools I use when I am doing my family genealogy is to check newspapers for obituaries or news items. Many times, I have been able to add the obit, and I have found other names in it that fill in the blanks in the family tree.

READ MORE - Original Article can be found HERE.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

To Check or Not to Check – What’s in Your Date’s Background?

Choosing to perform a background check on your potential date is a decision that for some people – does not come easy. In some cases, especially for those engaging in online dating, it may help to consider the possibilities of what could happen if you don’t do a background check. Many online dating websites are now making it mandatory for their clients to submit to a background check, creating a database of people who have been essentially pre-screened for you. If your best friend was to set you up on a blind date, you would essentially be on a date with someone who has been “pre-approved” by your best friend. But in the online dating world, you are basically setting yourself up on a blind date with a complete mystery person.

There is a reason why an increasing number of online dating services are requiring background checks. Simply put, we don’t live in the same world our mothers and grandmothers grew up in. Maybe there isn’t a growth in the number of situational predators in the dating scene, but with online dating there is a new accessibility to undesirable or potentially dangerous people. Most people are already aware of the danger that children are exposed to when going online, but many are unaware of the issues men and women face in with online dating. Background checks can reveal a number of things about a person that you may wish to avoid, such as a criminal history, past marriages, impending court cases, and even sexually or physically abusive people, and how many restraining orders have been placed on them in the past.

Online dating presents new challenges when determining patterns in a person that would normally signal a red flag in the traditional dating scene. Married men and women are able to conceal their marital status, participating in online conversations at times when phone calls and outings would otherwise be impossible. Let’s face it, if you’re going to date online, your going to hear some opposition, possibly from your family, your friends, or your co-workers. Maybe you’ve already heard it, but have you really considered what types of questions can be answered by a simple background check?

Some people naturally assume that if you are going to do a background check on your potential date, you are being dishonest and intrusive. But there are ways of protecting yourself, and being honest with the people you are dating or planning to invite into your home, and your life. First of all, if you are using certain online dating services, you will be meeting with people who have already agreed to a background check in order to join the service. But when exposing yourself to other online dating sources, you still have the opportunity to honestly let people know that you are concerned with their background. One of the most common worries is that a potentially great date is either married, or still in the process of a divorce – both of which can severely complicate matters in a new relationship. Many women are concerned with meeting married men, or men who have been married multiple times in the past. This is something that can be easily determined by performing a simple background check.

There are many areas of a person’s life that can be revealed with a background check, and once you are aware of these things, you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to move forward in the relationship. Many people, both men and women, are unaware that the person they are dating could hold enough debts to prevent them from leading a normal life. For example, a woman I have known for many years met a man over the internet, and developed a serious interest in dating this man. After a lengthy online relationship, they decided to meet in person, and hit it off immediately. What she didn’t know, was that her new love interest had a past that he was afraid to reveal. She knew that he had been married before, and had a child. What she didn’t know was that he had been married twice, and had a child from each marriage. Between the two children, he owed more than $65,000 in child support. Knowing whether or not a person has been married, or how many times, can open the doors to communication about things a person may not know how to bring up without scaring someone away. He wasn’t trying to keep information from her on purpose; he just didn’t know how to address the situation. If she had considered a background check on this man, she would have known what her future would be like with this man, and been able to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the relationship.

It is quite common for people to have something in their past that they are not proud of, and they may even be honest with you about a problem they have had. For instance, a man may meet a woman whose profile states that she is a social drinker. She honestly reveals that she was in court for a DUI over 10 years, but has stayed out of trouble ever since. However, a simple background check could reveal that she was caught drinking and driving in 1992, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2004, and 2006. Sometimes people who have something to hide are the same people who think that background checks are an invasion of one’s privacy, and that people who do them are being dishonest.

If you are honest about your intentions, and open about your plans to do a background check on your online prospects, you may be able to weed out those who are keeping secrets. If someone is against having a background check performed on them, talk to them about what you may potentially find; they may just open up and be honest about their past. Let them know that you are willing to trade reports, and you will provide them with a background check on yourself if they provide you with one as well. This can help to ease the tension and allow them to see that you are mutually willing to open up about your past, and looking to enter into a happy, healthy, honest relationship. If it remains a problem, you may decide that this person isn’t ready to fully share their life with another person. Most of all, consider your own safety and happiness, you may just be glad you did.

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US Search, pioneered affordable people search services. Founded in 1994 by Nicholas Matzorkis, US Search has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, on television shows reuniting friends and family members, and recently appeared on 60 Minutes with their first customers, who were reunited 13 years ago. Matzorkis states that making public records available online has leveled the playing field. "Personal information in the U.S. is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry," he said. "It's just a question of who has access. You, or the people selling it to other companies to market things to you?"

Their website offers various searches and reports such as background checks, criminal records, real estate reports, and reverse phone. They feature “4 Easy Steps to Public Records”, where the user enters search criteria for a preliminary search, which returns a list of names for you to choose from, select a report to purchase, and off you go to checkout online. Their famous 800-number connects you with operators assisting with searches and questions.

US Search grew rapidly. By 1996 the company had over 200 employees and took up three floors of office space on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills, CA. By 1999, they employed 400, and were worth $160 million on the NASDAQ exchange. In 2002, control of the company was acquired by First American Title, and is currently traded as First Advantage (FADV), with a market capitalization of over $1.3 billion.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Phishing Scams Could Take You for Thousands

If you aren’t already aware, there is an extremely common email and website scam known as “phishing”, which is the practice of distributing and publishing email messages and websites that are designed to look like legitimate sites. They are designed to deceive the reader into giving up valuable personal information like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information, or social security numbers. There are many different techniques and tactics that thieves will design to dupe the reader into submitting your information, which can then be used to gain access to your personal and financial information. Most of these tactics involve unsolicited email messages, and are usually sent repeatedly and from several companies at a time. The emails are being sent fraudulently using the names of many different highly recognizable business names, financial institutions, and government agencies.

There are some similarities between the spam emails, the most common emails are sent to you claiming that your eBay, PayPal, Bank of America, or Chase Bank account has been compromised or is being updated? Education is the key to preventing this crime from happening to you, so consider yourself warned if you hadn’t already caught on to the abundance of emails flooding into your inbox. Typically they will refer to you as “customer” or use your email address to salute you instead of your username, which is typically how your banking institution or eBay and PayPal accounts. This should be the first signal. Many of the links will lead to fraudulent or fake websites that look like the real McCoy. You perceive the website as legitimate, and enter your information, and – poof! Your money’s gone. Phishing is one of the most invasive, fastest growing types of spam affecting the internet world-wide. Businesses are particularly at risk due to the assets a company can hold. Microsoft offers a guide to keeping your business from being “Hooked by Phishing”, providing tips on protecting your company from identity and data thieves.

I just downloaded the new Internet Explorer 7, and identity theft seems to have been taken into consideration when the browser was updated. The new version sports a new “phishing filter” that functions in a way as a security and social networking ID theft deterrent. It works by scanning the websites that you visit, and warns you if they appear to be potentially suspicious. There is also up-to-the-hour online information through an online service and blocks you from having your personal information transferred if a site is known as a phishing website. Not only does it act as an early warning signal, but blocks you from potential phishing sites known for phishing activity. The filter reports phishing websites from both end users and 3rd party data sources, helping to protect users from sites that could be engaging in identity and data theft.
You can get the new Phishing Filter Add-In by installing updates for Internet Explorer. Simply click the “Help” list on your browser tools in the top of your window, and then click “Check for Updates”.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Researching and Obtaining Public Records

What Type of Information Do I Need?

If you want to go down to the county recorders office and get a copy of the marriage record for John and Mary Johnson, you would first need to know in what county the license was filed. Without knowing that information, you would have a harder time obtaining the records. What county were they married in, and better yet, what city and the year? You will need to know Mary’s maiden name as well, it’s a little more difficult if you only know that Jane’s last name is Johnson because she married John. The ideal amount of information to have would be: Mary Jane and John Johnson married on June 1, 1985 in Los Angeles County, in Norwalk. Their marriage records would be filed in Norwalk, at the County Recorders Office. If they were married in a smaller area, you could just go straight to the county office.

If you are looking for general information, then you can also perform a search online with much less information. That type of search will then return more information than you have, and with the added information you can find the answers you are looking for. So depending on where you live, who you are looking for, and where the records you are seeking are located, it is often cheaper to just
get public records online.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Contacting Loved Ones from the Past

Ever wondered about contacting that lost love of yours? With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time to take action! What a perfect time to reconnect, and possibly rekindle that old flame. It may be easier than you think. But what will you say? It’s been so long, and your nerves take a jolt when you think of saying ‘hi’ for the first time in years. But if you don’t do it, you’ll keep thinking about what could have been.

If you’re considering finding people from your past, and searching for and contacting your lost loves, there’s a few things you’ll need to have to be prepared for the search. People are relatively easy to find, as everyone leaves a paper trail behind them as they travel through life. These paper trails leave bits of information in the public records system, such as through marriage and divorce records, birth records, real estate information, and other common documents. The records are compiled into online databases, and are accessed when you use resources such as to find your lost loves. So now searching for your lost love is quick and easy, and you could reconnect sooner than you had hoped.

It is very common that people will remember their past, and think…what if? I have known people who married their high school sweetheart – 30 years later! It’s a wonderful feeling when you first contact a lost love, especially when that person is equally excited to hear from you. Searching for lost loves is always going to bring up memories, so when you finally meet, remember to be sensitive to the fact that your lost love may be surprised to hear from you. Give everything time to sink in, it can be quite emotional when you first speak to one another.

Once you decide that you are going to search for someone, you have past the first hurdle. Sometimes it’s easier to find someone you haven’t talked to in a year or so than a person you’ve lost contact with for many years. Who you look for depends on how hard it will be. For instance, if you are looking for a man from your past, there’s not much of a chance that his name has changed. Perhaps the place he calls home changes over the years, but not so much his name. However, with women, it can be a whole different challenge. Generally a woman’s name will change when she becomes married, and sometime finding her with her new name is a challenge. For some people, they continue to live in the same area, and you may even know if she is married, and to who. But if you haven’t been in contact with your lost love in quite some time, the challenge may be finding her new name. You may consider contacting a close friend or relative, chances are they still keep contact with her, and may be easier to find. But even with the information you might have, it can be simple and easy, and in some cases, just a few clicks of your mouse.

So once you have the information, it’s time to go for it, procrastination never found anyone, but searching for them does. So be brave, and take on the challenge to find someone you miss, someone you haven’t been in contact with, and old friend or an old flame, just in time for that romantic day. Can you imagine anything more romantic and meaningful than receiving a card or flowers from someone you’ve thought about over the years? Well now’s your chance to do that for your lost love.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

Knowing some of the things that are considered private information can help you to keep your identity safe. It’s not enough anymore just to protect your social security number, but becoming more and more likely that someone can gain enough personal information to do some hefty damage on your credit. If your information ends up in the wrong hands, it can be used or sold for future use. Periodically checking your credit report can help you to keep track of how your information is being used, and by whom.

If you’re under the impression that your social security number is the only way that someone can steal your identity, it’s probably time you know that things are different now. In today’s world, a simple phone number could be enough information for someone to rack up some bills in your name. Key pieces of your personal information can be used to order services such as phone, electric, or cable. Identity thieves also use the identities of others to obtain loans, cars, credit cards, or make big ticket purchases. Some have even gotten a driver’s license under their assumed identity.

Knowing how your information ends up in the hands of would-be thieves can help you to protect your information, and helps you to keep control over your credit status. Many people readily fill out online forms, without checking to be sure that the website is legitimate. Web users are asked to fill out online forms for just about everything, but there are some that should be avoided like the plague. Here are some of the types of websites that should send up a warning flag, what they might ask for, and how you can recognize their warning signals. These websites are usually sent in an email:

  • Your bank will not send emails requesting your username and password in order to update their records, because of a security breach, or for any other reason.
  • If you get an email requesting your username or password for any type of online account, report it as spam immediately.
  • eBay and PayPal will always address you by your username, and not “valued customer” or “PayPal user”.
  • If you receive and suspicious emails, such as a message from an eBay member when you have not recently sold or purchased anything on eBay, forward the suspicious emails to either eBay or PayPal, and report the email as spam.
  • The ambassador of Nigeria, or any other country, would not email you to get assistance, and all you have to do is deposit a check of $35 million into your bank account, with the promise of sending a $25million wire transfer back, to an account in the U.K. This email could come from a fake minister, ambassador, Nigerian royals such as prince or princess, or could even come from a supposed heir to a fortune.
  • Whatever their story, and it’s usually a long one, disregard the possibility of becoming rich. Their “cashier checks” are generally fake or forged, and will bounce. Their hopes lie in the error of the naive, by depositing the fake check, immediately withdrawing the amount you were instructed, and instantly wiring them the money. The check may not show as having bounced for up to two weeks, overdrawing your bank account by millions.
  • While it is possible to purchase prescription medications over the internet, it is highly unlikely that you would be introduced to them through an uninvited email.
  • Your best bet is to ask people you trust, double check any U.S. business through the Better Business Bureau (BBB), or do a Google search, and find the company that seems the most trustworthy, and has a secure site. (i.e., https://)

It’s no small deal to have your identity stolen, and it can cause you years of credit problems if it happens to you. While some creditors are aware that it happens, and may help you to restore your credit, others have been cracking down on consumers who try to pass of bad debt as the work of an identity thief.

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