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Is Intelius Your Source Of Information?

May 6, 2008
Intelius is a data gathering information service available for individuals and businesses. Individuals may search for information on themselves or anyone else based on personal information such as name, address and telephone number or even the email address. Social security number searches are also available. Results vary, but reports may include information regarding credit report, neighborhoods, phone records and address history as part of the search result options.

Protection services are also offered by Intelius. These services include: identity theft and credit reporting services, criminal and sex offender search results and a reverse cell phone call directory. The identity theft protection service is used to create a identity profile, obtain credit information, create fraud alerts and warning system to notify you in case of any of your information stated in the profile are being used to obtain credit in the event identity theft occurs it also provides a $25,000 insurance policy to assist you with recovery related issues.

The Intelius business services product provides assistance to business, apartment owners and landlords, just to name a few. Prospective landlords and businesses may perform background and criminal checks on applications for employment or prospective tenants. In addition to these business services, Intelius also offers research, news, and legal information to businesses about safe hiring practices. Customized searches may be created based on a business need or applicant qualifications. Search results may be limited to specific criteria or include a complete background and credit check.

The price for these services varies. Some sample prices are $4.95 for a cell phone record, $44.99 for a full background check on an individual, a statewide employment check is $29.95 and a nationwide employment check is $59.95. Club members get discounts on a variety of products, and to become a member it is $9.95.

Support services include telephone, email messages from the Intelius site, and a Frequently Asked Questions page within the site.

Many people may be frightened by the idea of this much of their personal and financial information all in one spot available to anyone who can complete a search as well as pay the cost of the search. My own first response was "How can I get removed from this service?" Intelius does provide the following "opt out" information and instructions:

"As a courtesy we can 'opt out' your specific information from the Intelius People Search service. What this means is that your name as it appears in a particular record and the associated identifying information such as your address and phone number will be suppressed if you request this in the manner described below. However, please note that any time your identifying information appears in a public record in a manner which is different from the record you opted out; it will again appear in our system. For example, if your address or area code changes your new information will again appear unless you opt out the new record. There also are many other public records search services which are not owned by Intelius and your request that we opt out your information will not prevent your information from appearing on these other services. To opt out your publicly available information from being obtained by someone using our People Search service, fax or mail your name and address as it appears on our website or send us a copy of the page from our website that includes your information."

Criticism of the service includes the fact that there is too much information available, and with this you could literally put a $50.00 investment into a purchase which results in information that assists an identity theft crime. As a result the thief may either sell the information or use it for their own purposes to get jobs, medical care, buy a house and obtain credit cards.

One criticism is that the information is often out dated. However, unfortunately, the information is only as good and timely as the databases it is "harvested" from. Many government agencies and services are "behind the times" when it comes to updating their databases with current information and as result, the search results may not be complete.

Another criticism of this product would be that this information could be sold to marketing companies. As a result, mass marketing companies could then flood consumers with annoying purchase offers via telephone and mail. These offers, in addition to being a waste of time and paper are also annoying and time consuming to be removed from. The offers may also increase a consumer's chances of becoming a victim of identity theft and credit card fraud.

But before the "knee jerk" reaction to the service is completed you need to examine the benefits of this type of information gathering and production service. For example, I have a house for rent; this system allows me to do a background check on my potential tenant. I can find out if they have been convicted of any crimes or if they have a history of bad credit. Both of them would make this personal an undesirable tenant.

Another example of beneficial everyday use for the average individual would be background reports for that new romantic interest. With the use of the internet, dating services, and chat rooms, to meet friends and romantic partners, wouldn't it be nice to find out prior to any mistakes were made if your potential romantic interest is truthful. For example, they may convicted of a crime (that you may not be willing to consider) or still be married. These are definitely things you should know in advance of pursuing the relationship any further.

It is also beneficial to small businesses; that may need, but can't afford the costs of the more expensive background and criminal check services. This provides them with a cost effective method of researching potential employees.

Intelius Awards:

2006 Ernst and Young finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year
2006 Stevie Award for Best New Company
2007 CODiE Award finalist for Best Online Consumer Information Service
2007 Stevie Award finalist for Most Innovative Company

In addition to these awards, testimonials by clients and businesses are available regarding the effectiveness of the Intelius products. Yes, the gathering of this information all in one place may be frightening, but as scary as it sounds, the fact remains, the information is out there and Intelius is just gathering it in one place. Individuals wanting to research a prospective tenant or relationship, or family members searching for a long lost family member or friend may argue that this type of service and resource is invaluable to them in their efforts to provide for a safe working environment or find their biological parents. An enterprising identity thief can find out much of the same information on their own and without this service many businesses and individuals may be without a valuable resource.
About the Author
Lisa Carey is a contributing author for Identity Theft Secrets: prevention and protection. You can get tips on Identity theft protection, software, and monitoring your credit as well as learn more about the secrets used by identity thieves at the Identity Theft Secrets blog.
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