US Census Guide: How to Get the Most Out of Census.gov

If you ever visited Census.gov before it was updated you’d have found the process of sifting through the plentiful information about America’s economy, places, and people incredibly time-consuming and difficult. Thankfully, the website has been updated, which has made it slightly easier to navigate. However, with so much information available, it’s still easy to miss key features or you may struggle to pinpoint the data you’re looking for.

Therefore, to help get you started and to make sure you’re getting the most out of Census.gov, we’ve put together this handy guide which will show you how to navigate the site and get the results you’re looking for.

Using the Navigation Bar

At the top of the site, you’ll see a navigation bar which contains the links, “Topics,” “Geography,” “Library,” “Data,” “Surveys/Programs,” “Newsrooms,” and “About Us.” So, let’s take a look at each of these to see what you’ll find in each section.

Using the Topics Feature on Census.gov

When you click on the “Topics” tab at the top of the homepage, this presents you with a drop-down bar with a number of further options. These contain the economic and demographic content within certain areas of interest, including population, education, income and poverty, and health.

Clicking on one of these will provide you with a further breakdown of the statistics that are available for this area. For example, if you click on ‘Health,’ this presents you with several more options, including Disability, Expenses and Investments, Fertility, Health Care Industries, Health Insurance, HIV/AIDS, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE), and Social Assistance Industries. As you click into each of these categories you’ll be taken to a new page that’s dedicated entirely to this area. At the top of the page, you’ll see an overview of what the statistics include along with any new releases that are available.

When you’ve found your chosen area and have clicked on it, you can go into much more detail using the additional tabs and sections within each sub-category. For example, on the Disability page, you’ll find information about the data that’s collected, how it’s collected, and what publications have been released. For further information on the specific area, there are also links to related sites or you can contact the team for more information.

Alternatively, if you just want an overview of one of the main categories (e.g. Health) and don’t want to go into a specific sub-category, you can enter the main page by clicking on “[CATEGORY NAME] main” in the white box that’s on the left-hand side of the drop-down within each section. This provides you with a general overview of the data that’s been collected, any news stories, recent publications, new surveys/programs, working papers, and so on.

Using the Geography Feature on Census.gov

Clicking on the “Geography” tab opens up some more possibilities for your data search. Here you’ll find access to an overview of the geography section of the website, “Geography Main.” Or you can refine your search by clicking on the various features available.

This includes cool interactive maps that display things like populations; education tools like blogs and brochures; metropolitan and micropolitan information; and further details on the Geographic Support System Initiative (GSS-I).

Using the Library Feature on Census.gov

For photos, videos, and audio tools, you’ll need to click on the “Library” tab. Here you’ll find access to all the available publications, infographics, and audio/visual tools available.

For example, if you click into the infographics section you’ll be able to see the latest ones that have been published. Codes for each of these are available so you can embed these into your own website to provide a cool graphic for your visitors.

All of the multimedia available within this section is sorted by their date of release.

Using the Data Feature on Census.gov

Under the “Data” tab you’ll find some great tools that help you find the data you’re looking for. (We’ll delve into the QuickFacts section of the site in more detail below.)

Within this section, you will find more sub-categories that allow you to explore different areas of the site. Helpful tools (like the QuickFacts feature) are located under the tab “Data Tools & Apps,” but you’ll also find a section that’s dedicated to developers.

The developers’ section of Census.gov has been designed to help provide greater access to the stats and data the website’s got available. Therefore, within this section developers can use the application programming interface (API) to reach new users and create custom apps by incorporating the stats found on the website into their own designs. For example, a developer may use the stats to show what commuting patterns there are in a particular American city, or they may show how many homeowners there are within a certain neighborhood.

However, if you’re not a developer, you can gain instant access to some of the apps that are already available. Contained in the “Mobile Apps” section you’ll find a number of free apps that help you process the information that’s available on the site. Or, if you fancy putting your knowledge to the test, you might like to download the Census PoP Quiz!

Furthermore, in the “Software” sub-category you’ll also find some free software that allows you to process, map, extract, display, and/or create tables from the survey and census data.

There’s also a “Product Catalogs” section where you’ll find information that’s been separated into key subject categories (e.g. Business and Industry, Geography, and Housing). Within these sections, you’ll find publications in print, CDs, DVDs, certification services, and reference files and maps.

Finally, for information on combining data and where you can get more training or attend workshops, you’ll need to be in the “Training & Workshops” section.

You can also access to the visual tools through this Data section, too.

Using the Surveys/Programs Feature on Census.gov

To gain instant access to the surveys and programs that have been run throughout the U.S., click on the tab for “Surveys/Programs”. Through the drop-down menu, you can access all of the surveys available, which include the 2010 and 2020 Census, the American Housing Survey (AHS), the Economic Census, and so on.

Clicking on the relevant one will take you straight to the relevant survey while also providing you with more information on the survey. For example, in the 2020 Census section, you’ll find details on things like research and testing, the latest news, and a monthly status report.

If you’re not sure what survey or program you want, you can click on the tab that shows “All Surveys & Programs.” Displayed in alphabetical order, there are over one hundred different ones available for you to choose from.

And, finally, if you ever want some more details on a survey you’ve been asked to take part in you can learn more about this in the “Are you in a Survey?” section.

Using the Newsroom and About Us Sections on Census.gov

The final two tabs on the website are pretty self-explanatory. Within the newsroom section, you’ll find the latest releases and blog/social media posts. You can also get facts for your features, stats for your stories, and press kits here. And if you want to know more about Census.gov, how it operates, who’s behind it, and what their research involves, head to “About Us.”

Getting the Most Out of Census.gov QuickFacts

The QuickFacts tool provided by Census.gov is incredibly useful if you want to refine the data on offer. To access the tool you can either click through from the homepage or go to the “Data” tab before clicking on “Data Tools & Apps” and “QuickFacts.”

Once the QuickFacts screen has loaded up you’ll see a search box where you can enter the state, county, city, town, or zip code – and a drop-down box that allows you to select a fact.

The facts include various factors within several sections:

  • Population
  • Age and Sex
  • Race and Hispanic Origin
  • Population Characteristics
  • Housing
  • Family and Living Arrangements
  • Education
  • Health
  • Economy
  • Transportation
  • Income & Poverty
  • Business
  • Geography

To access the data, simply enter the area you want to look in. The search bar at the top does also give you the option to choose the factor you want to filter by. For example, you may want to look at Oklahoma to see how many people are living in each household. To do this, you’ll type in “Oklahoma” in the search bar before selecting “persons per household” under the “Family and Living Arrangements” section. However, unfortunately, the tool doesn’t filter out all of the other information when you do this, so you’ll still see all the other data among the data you’ve asked for.

Therefore, to get the information you’re looking for your best off entering the area in the search bar, letting the graph load and selecting the section that’s relevant to you from the drop-down menu that’s located at the top of the table. This automatically shows “All Topics” but if you click on it, it’ll display the sections detailed in the bullet points listed above. So, for the previous example we’ve given, we’d select “Family and Living Arrangements” before narrowing down our search to see how many people were living in each household.

You’ll also notice that when your table’s generated, it will show the “United States” and your chosen area, e.g. Oklahoma. This allows you to compare the stats for both, or, if you want to focus solely on the area you’ve chosen, you can click the X above ‘United States’ to get rid of this.

Once you’ve created this table you can then add other areas to it to start comparing. All you need to do is type in the new area in the search box. For example, we might compare the number of people in a household in Oklahoma with the figures for Tennessee. After we’ve typed “Tennessee” into the search bar this will be added to the table next to Oklahoma so we can compare the two. And if you want to get rid of one of your search results, all you need to do is hit the X above the area name.

Because QuickFacts continues to add new areas to the table when you type them in the search bar, you will need to clear your existing table if you want to start a fresh comparison. To do this, just click on the “Clear” icon on the toolbar.

Using the Other Features of QuickFacts

You’ll also notice that, on this toolbar, there are a number of other icons, and these are designed to create interactive features for your searches. For example, after you’ve selected the area you’re looking at, you can click on “Map” to load a full map of the United States. It will highlight the area you’ve selected in red while also showing you all the other states. By hovering over the states you can see the total populations within each. Or, if you select a particular fact from the drop-down menu, it’ll display the total number of people within each area according to the fact you’ve selected.

The chart icon also provides you with another way of comparing your newfound stats with other states in the U.S. To use, just click on the icon after you’ve input the area and fact you want to search by.

And now comes the clever part! The “Dashboard” icon draws all three of the above features into one manageable place, so you can see the table, map, and chart at once. This offers a much more visual experience that you can continue to change and refine according to the topics you’re selecting.

If you do get confused as to what topic you’ve chosen, this is always displayed above the feature you’re using.

Finally, when you’ve found the data you want, you can start to use it by clicking on the “More” button at the end of the QuickFacts toolbar. Here you can choose to print your results, import them into a CSV file (for use with Excel spreadsheets, for example), email them to someone, get an embedded link for your website, or share them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Although the QuickFacts feature can be a little frustrating to use to start with, by playing around with it for a few minutes you should grasp the concept of it. And once you do, the information that’s available and the features you can use are incredibly useful.

Other Useful Features on Census.gov

U.S. and World Population Clock

To see how rapidly the world’s or America’s population is expanding, the interactive Population Clock is well worth a visit. With a clock counting the population as it grows and some other timers for births, deaths, and migrations, this is a great visual tool.

Here you’ll also find out how the population is changing, being able to see how frequently a new baby’s being born, how often there’s a death, and how the population is growing by region. You can also view the population density by age and sex, viewing how it’s changed over the years.

Additionally, you can find out how large the population of America was on a certain date by entering it into the calendar. This is also available to download and share.

American FactFinder

This tool on Census.gov lets you explore popular facts about your community, while also showing you the data that’s being frequently requested about this area. To find out more all you need to do is put your state, county, city, town, or zip code in the search bar and click “Go.”

Once you’ve done this it’ll take you to a page which shows you the total population and popular tables for this area. On the left-hand side, you’ll also see a number of categories, including age, education, and housing. Clicking on one of these will bring up the relevant data for this category while, again, showing you the popular tables for this section.

However, if you want to refine your search you may find the “Guided Search” option, which is available on the main page of the American FactFinder, helpful. Here you choose from a number of options, including what information you’re looking for, the topics you’re interested in, the location you want, and whether you want to refine your data to a race or ethnic group.

Once you’ve done this you’ll be presented with a list of tables and documents that are relevant to your requirements. This is a much easier way to refine your search!

There’s also an “Advanced Search” option that allows you to search by topics, geographies, race and ethnic groups, industry codes, and EEO occupation codes. You can also search by topic or table name or the area you’re interested in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Within this section, you’ll see what questions people are asking, with popular FAQs displayed on the main page. You can refine the results by topics or find what you’re looking for straight away, just type your question in the search box.

There’s some great information available that will help shed light on your research, the data available, and what goes into the surveys. You can also dip into the glossary for help with any unknown terms.

Conclusion

As you can see there’s plenty on offer at Census.gov, whether you’re looking for the latest mobile apps or you need to produce a table of facts for a new assignment. And, although the plethora of information can seem quite intimidating at first, the above explanation of how to access all of the key areas should hopefully help you find what you’re looking for!

INFOGRAPHIC: The Lies We Tell on Resumes

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Did Jimmy Kimmel Steal our Map?

We’ve been huge fans of Jimmy Kimmel since the days of “The Man Show” and “Win Ben Stein’s Money”.  So we were a bit shocked when we saw the 3 minute bit Jimmy ran:

 

Notice that map? That’s our map:

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Hey Jimmy – What Happened to our Logo?

This isn’t the first time Jimmy has been accused of stealing jokes. Last month, Jimmy allegedly stole a whole bunch of jokes from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Oscars. Judah Friedlander also accused Kimmel of stealing a joke.

So I guess we’re not surprised – just saddened. Jimmy literally took the extra effort and completely got rid of our logo or any mention of us.

Since this isn’t the first, second, or even third time, we made a little rap sheet for Jimmy.

Check it out:

 

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We’re not like Jimmy either – that beautiful, royalty free image was taken by Romina Espinosa. Romina, whoever and wherever you are, we’d love to hear the story behind that picture!

Finally – Jimmy and team: Our lawyer says we have a pretty good case. We’re still thinking about it. But we’ll let bygones be bygones if you and Guillermo  sing I’m Sorry, So Sorry  to the BackgroundChecks.org team. No need to ask us – just go ahead, do it, and upload to your YouTube channel.

 

 

 

Which States have the Worst DUI Problems?

Spring is in the air. That means parties, barbecues, and of course, a lot more beer and drinking. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking, Drinking and Driving is still a major problem across the United States. We set out to see how bad it really is. Check out the map, then scroll below for our data!
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Concerned about safety issues in your community? Check out our home security resources for more information.

DUIs are going up in America. Over 10,000 people were killed  and more then 200,000 were inured in 2015  alone as a direct result of someone driving under the influence. We set out to figure out how bad drunk driving is in America, and the results are bad. To create a ranking of states, we took a combination of deaths directly attributable to DUIs, DUI arrests per 100,000 people, and drinking too much before driving, as reported by drivers themselves.  We then created a weighted formula. The results are below – let us know how your state did and what you think in the comments!

(Our data came from the CDC, and MADD, which aggregates state data).

The States with the Worst DUI Problems

Ranking, Worst to BestStateNo. of fatalitiesRate (of all total traffic deaths)Increase/Decrease from last yearDUI death rate (per 100,000)DUI arrestsDUI Arrest Rate (per 100,000)Percentage of Adults Who Reported Drinking Too Much Before Driving, 2014
1Wyoming560.38%16.7% increase9.563,1575391.4
2North Dakota500.38%9.1% decrease6.606,3518383.4
3South Dakota430.33%2.3% decrease4.977,3058442.2
4Montana750.34%2.7% increase7.193,6743522.4
5South Carolina3010.31%9.1% decrease6.0716,2723281.6
6Mississippi1750.26%1.7% increase5.866,8892301.6
7New Mexico980.33%16.2% decrease4.718,5424101.1
8Kentucky1920.25%12.3% increase4.3317,8254021.4
9Maine520.33%40.5% increase3.915,7564321.7
10Arkansas1490.28%9.6% increase4.996,9192321.4
11Idaho700.32%32.1% increase4.165,8443471.6
12Texas13230.38%8.5% decrease4.7564,9712331.8
13Louisiana2450.34%8% decrease5.235,3391142.2
14Wisconsin1890.33%14.5% increase3.2724,5884252.2
15North Carolina4110.30%13.2% increase4.0535,9673541.2
16Alabama2470.29%6.8% decrease5.087,8631621.3
17Arizona2720.31%36% increase3.9222,3673231.6
18Oklahoma1700.27%9% increase4.3311,1012830.9
19Tennessee2520.26%7.7% decrease3.7923,1503481.1
20Alaska230.36%4.5% increase3.103,1634261.6
21Colorado1510.28%5.6% decrease2.7325,5624611.9
22Missouri2240.26%9.3% increase3.6819,4493191.3
23Nebraska650.26%8.3% increase3.415,3482802.5
24Oregon1550.35%56.5% increase3.799,0192201.6
25Nevada970.30%4.3% increase3.307,6122592.2
26Pennsylvania3640.30%4.3% increase2.8544,6153491.8
27West Virginia710.27%15.5% decrease3.884,5432480.5
28Florida7970.27%14.8% increase3.8731,7831541.7
29Hawaii330.35%10% increase2.315,2503682.1
30Iowa780.24%14.3% decrease2.499,0282882.8
31Ohio3130.28%3.6% increase2.6934,2542952
32California9140.29%4.3% increase2.33141,4583601.9
33Delaware410.33%21.2% decrease4.31386411.7
34Michigan2670.28%25.9% increase2.6926,8452702.2
35Vermont150.27%87.5% increase2.402,1443431.8
36New Hampshire330.29%13.8% increase2.474,7463561.3
37Minnesota1150.28%6.5% increase2.0820,8303771.9
38Maryland1590.31%22.3% increase2.6417,1002841.8
39Connecticut1030.39%6.2% increase2.888,1482281.9
40Georgia3660.26%31.2% increase3.5519,2171860.7
41Kansas840.24%22.2% decrease2.897,1862471.4
42Washington1480.26%12.1% increase2.0324,6273381.9
43Indiana1780.22%11.3% increase2.6814,4282181.6
44Virginia2080.28%3.7% decrease2.4720,4772431.5
45Rhode Island190.43%11.8% increase1.802,5912452.5
46Utah430.16%24.6% decrease1.418,8132890.8
47New Jersey1110.20%31.1% decrease1.2422,2012481.4
48Illinois3070.31%1.7% increase2.403,659291.8
49Massachusetts960.31%32.9% decrease1.418,2581212
50New York3110.28%0.3% decrease1.5828,9881471

 

 

 

These Are The Most Sexually Diseased States in the US

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is in the air. Before the hormones make you do something stupid, take a look at this map and see how likely it is you’ll grab an STD before the day is out. Get the full information and study after the jump.

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Between Tinder, Grindr, and other very NSFW websites, casual hookups are an all time high. With increased casual sex comes some bad news: STDs have reached all times highs, according to the CDC.

To help you get your game on while staying safe, we put together a list of the best and worst states for STDs in America. To create this report, we used CDC data on STDs, state and county health agency data, and social media surveys. For empirical data, we used a rate of incidents per 100k residents normalized for population. We attached a weighted average to CDC and state health data, and factored in survey data to get our final rankings:

The Most Diseased States Ranking

Ranking [Worst to Best]StateGonorrhea rate per 100,000kChlamydia rate per 100kWeighted Disease Score
1Alaska151.1768.3521.42
2Louisiana221.1695.2505.56
3North Carolina199.2647.4468.12
4Mississippi192.9580.2425.28
5New Mexico119.3605.7411.14
6South Carolina169.8569.9409.86
7Georgia158.3570.8405.8
8Oklahoma168.7542.2392.8
9Arkansas161.1545391.44
10Alabama148.4543.6385.52
11Illinois133540.4377.44
12Texas147.3523.6373.08
13New York129.4524.7366.58
14Delaware140492.2351.32
15Ohio142.9489.3350.74
16California139.5487.5348.3
17Missouri147.5477.4345.44
18Tennessee128477.5337.7
19Arizona122.5481.1337.66
20Hawaii87.3498.3333.9
21South Dakota122.8462.9326.86
22Nevada127.9455.3324.34
23Michigan104.2469.1323.14
24Maryland114.8459.3321.5
25Florida121.3454.8321.4
26Indiana118.9437.9310.3
27Colorado81.9445.4300
28Virginia97.3424.5293.62
29North Dakota92.5427.2293.32
30Pennsylvania100418.1290.86
31Wisconsin91.4423.5290.66
32Nebraska90.5422.9289.94
33Washington101.6406.4284.48
34Rhode Island55433.6282.16
35Kentucky106395.2279.52
36Oregon81.4410.7278.98
37Montana82.5408.8278.28
38Kansas87.3394.8271.8
39Minnesota75.1389.3263.62
40Iowa72.3388.9262.26
41New Jersey80.9350.6242.72
42Connecticut58.1364.9242.18
43Massachusetts56.6357.3237.02
44Wyoming30348.7221.22
45Idaho28.9344.5218.26
46Utah53.1293.3197.22
47Vermont24.7303.4191.92
48Maine31.4298.1191.42
49West Virginia41.6268177.44
50New Hampshire18.5233.3147.38

 

 

 

How to Survive Identity Theft and Fraud Online

Identity Theft Protection Guide

Introduction

If you’ve never been a victim of identity theft, consider yourself lucky. Millions of people have had to fight their way out of serious financial trouble because of one wrong person getting hold of their personal information.

A 2016 study by Javelin Strategy & Research found that about 13.1 million consumers in the U.S are victims of data theft or cybercrime in one form or another, having an estimated total of $15 billion stolen – and the numbers keep rising each year. Identity theft is possibly the worst cybercrime of all, one that can easily destroy a lifetime’s worth of reputation, finances, and credit history, which can take years to recover from. If you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, this resource is your survival guide on how to gain back control, steps to recover from fraud and identity theft, as well as many useful tips and helpful information to protect yourself from being a victim of cybercrime in the future.

Identity Theft: The Facts

The most recent statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics are assessed on the data collected from 2014 and were published September of 2015 as an online PDF visual representation. They show that about 7% of people over the age of 16 were victims of identity theft. That may not seem like a lot, but when you take into account that there were 242 million people over 18 in the US in 2014, that would mean over 17 million people were taken advantage of. The bureau also reports that 14%, or 2.5 million, suffered financial loss from identity theft.

Women are more likely to have their identity stolen than men, at 9.2 million women compared to 8.3 million men. When dividing by race groups, Caucasians have a rate of 8%, African Americans are about 5% – as are Hispanics. Incomes of $75,000 or more annually were targeted most, at theft rate of 11%.

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Identity theft is so much more than just having your credit card compromised, though that is what most people equate it with. The truth is that having your identity stolen can be much more damaging to your life than people realize. Not only can someone open up lines of credit under your name, but they can also rent apartments and even get a job. It’s even possible to file a tax return in your name and take the returns.

52% of victims reported they were able to resolve the issues in a day or less, but 9% spent more than a month working on fixing the damage done. 29% of victims that spent more than 6 months resolving problems due to identity theft reported severe emotional distress.

Surprisingly, children are 51x more likely to have their identity stolen than adults would be. They are vulnerable to someone who might try to manipulate them because they don’t realize the risk. The vast majority of childidentities stolen are used to open credit accounts and to substantiate loans, often by family members or relatives. Parents usually warn children about sexual predators and being modest on social media, but what they don’t usually think about is people who might pray on their naivety online and get them to give up pertinent information that would compromise their identity security.

In the first half of 2016, there were a record-breaking 621 mass data breaches reported worldwide. These are hackers who are attacking large companies and corporations, attempting to break into their databases and pull out any stored financial or personal information on their customers and clients. Some recognizable and newsworthy attempts have been with companies like Target, Anthem (Blue Cross Blue Shield), and Home Depot

  • Target – In 2013, the US store was compromised and 40 million credit cards were stolen along with 70 million customer accounts’ information.
  • Anthem – in 2015, they reported a data breach that had been going on for weeks. Someone had broken into their IT department’s records, potentially exposing each client’s name, birthdate, social security number, income data, etc.

Home Depot – in 2014, they were attacked via a vendor through their computer’s network and 56 million credit card numbers and 53 million email addresses were stolen.

Major companies may have better security but can also be a more tempting target for potential hackers because of the wealth of information that could be retrieved if they were successful. Obviously, the attacks on Target, Anthem and Home Depot were a huge pay-off for the hackers and a catastrophic financial nightmare for the companies and, at minimum, a significant inconvenience for their customers.

ID Theft: Statistics Around The World

According to NASDAQ, “Data breaches totaled 1,540 worldwide in 2014 – up 46 percent from the year before – and led to the compromise of more than one billion data records.” By the statistics, 55% of breach incidents are from a malicious outsider who was intentionally trying to get in and steal information. 25% came from accidental loss and 15% came from a malicious insider.

The most hacked area was North America, accounting for 76% of the known breaches around the world. 72% occurred in the United States alone. The United Kingdom accounts for 8% of the breaches, Canada carries 4%, Australia accounts for 2%, and Israel and China both carry 1% of the burden.

As for credit card fraud, the United States only carries about 24% of the credit cards in the world, yet 47% of credit card fraud. Countries that have adopted the EMV or “chip” card have shown significantly lower occurrences of fraud. The United States’ slow adoption of the technology is suspected to be the reason their rate of fraud is much higher.

Different Types of Identity Theft

Before delving deeper into understanding identity theft, let us first look into some of the common terminology used in reference to these crimes:

Phishing 

Misleading emails that manipulate people to enter confidential information. This could be someone pretending to be a bank representative, a health service or medical assistant, or even a credit card company.

Smishing

The same concept as phishing, but done through SMS or text messaging.

Wardriving

When someone hacks into a wireless network and installs spyware. This allows them to see what IP addresses are being used and what each device is doing, including personal information, usernames, passwords, and much more.

Keylogging

Software installed either by a hacker or virus that logs every keystroke done on a computer. This key logging software reports each keystroke to the person who planted the software and can easily be deconstructed to provide them your usernames, passwords, social security information, and any other personal data they find interesting.

Skimming 

Devices designed to be placed over ATM and gas pump card slots that still allow the card to work, but also store the credit card information. When the person who placed it retrieves the device, the information of every credit card used during the time it was installed is then accessible by the thief.

Shoulder Surfing

When a person looks over your shoulder at an ATM or other place you may be using a debit card and entering your pin number. They can get your card account number and then learn your pin number by watching you enter it. From there, they would be able to use your debit account anywhere they want.

So how does personal information get out into dangerous territory? 23% of identity theft begins with phishing emails. Potential scammers send emails posing as a legitimate business that a person may or may not already be associated with (i.e.: a bank or credit card company) and manipulate the victim into giving them pertinent confidential information. This release of information ultimately leads to their financial accounts and/or identity being used without their permission. A phishing email is usually recognizable because the sender is asking you to verify your information through a non-secure online source. Also, generally speaking, a legitimate business would not contact you through email if there were any sort of breach of security on your account; they would either call a customer directly and/or just shut down their card.

Sometimes, scammers will set up legitimate-looking websites that are really just a ploy to acquire the user’s information. This could be in the form of a merchant website online where the user thinks they are buying an item that they never receive and, instead, have their information stolen. Other times, the scammer will make a page that looks and acts just like a well-known or reputable bank or credit institution but with a slightly different web address. The user trusts the site because it looks like a real one, enters their information, and never hears back from the site, only to find out that their information was stolen and misused.

In addition, many people don’t realize that large corporations and popular businesses routinely sell their users’ information. These companies are required by law to put into their terms and conditions that they are able to sell your information but very few people actually look into that information when filling out forms online. By selling that information to third parties, it opens people up to spam emails, mail, phone calls, and a whole host of other problems. Don’t be fooled – these companies do not care that they’re selling your personal information; it is just money in their eyes.

Another way your information can be compromised is by physical collection. If you’ve ever lost your purse or had your wallet stolen or even left a credit card behind at a restaurant, you are in danger. Additionally, personal information can be acquired by dumpster diving or digging through trash to find anything that was discarded without being shredded. Most banks and doctors’ offices have policies in place where they are required to shred personal information, but it may not occur to people that their trash from home might be gone through either by people they allow into their home or predators who could dig through your trash bin out by the road before it is collected. Any acquisition of a physical piece of identification puts someone at risk. Not only could they have access to your account number but they could use the person’s ID and other pieces of information to open lines of credit and do major damage financially.

In 2014, 54% of people reported that their fraudulently used information was initiated by a phone call. Most commonly, a scammer will pose as a representative from a financial institution and tell the victim that they have had suspicious activity on their account and that they need to have the victim verify information. It is only later that the victim realizes that they’ve been lied to and that they basically handed over their entire security to a stranger on the phone.

Steps to Recover Your Stolen Identity

Because it can be embarrassing to admit that you have been scammed, often times victims will let their pride get the best of them and will not report that they have been victimized. A lot of online scammers rely on the human ego to be too proud to admit that they have been taken advantage of and they will go unreported. The Bureau of Justice reports that fewer than 1 in 10 identity theft victims report the incident to the police.

It is important to have a physical copy of your accounts and credit/debit card information. This could be physically written or photocopied, but make sure it is stored in a secure place where no one can misuse this information. In a situation where a card is lost or your wallet is stolen it is important to know what was in there and have quick access to the account numbers so you can actively contact the companies and report the lost or stolen cards.

Acting quickly is integral to getting your identity back. The quicker you report it the sooner you can flag your accounts and avoid further damage.

  • File a fraud alert immediately, even if misuse is only suspected. A fraud alert will bring up a notification when your credit is run and any potential uses will be flagged and the retailers should be prompted to verify the user’s identity. This will make it more difficult for people to fraudulently use your information, especially if they don’t have a copy of the victim’s driver’s license. You create the alert by calling one of the three major credit bureaus directly. It doesn’t matter which one is called because they are required to report the alert to the other two, saving you the trouble of calling each one directly. This alert will stay on your report for 90 days unless you call and remove it.
  • If you are sure your identity is being misused, initiate a credit freeze with all of your compromised accounts. For this service, each credit bureau has to be contacted directly. A credit freeze is different from an alert because a credit freeze will make it so that banks and other companies that might open a line of credit will be denied access to your credit report, making it much more difficult for the perpetrator to open a line of credit. This can be lifted temporarily if you need. It is generally a free service but occasionally there is a nominal charge.
  • When initiating your credit freeze, remember to request a copy of your credit report. Each bureau should give you details on how to obtain your report. Otherwise, you can obtain your credit reports online for free (limited to one free report a year). Make a note of any questionable entries.
  • File an identity theft report. This alerts federal and local authorities of the crime. This is important because it will give you the momentum you need to effectively fight any fraudulent charges and accounts. The first step is to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. This division of the government is set up to help protect consumers and combat fraud, such as identity theft. Once the report is filed online, they provide something called an Identity Theft Affidavit, which is good to print and keep on file for your records.
  • Next, file a report with the local police. Calling in advance is often a good idea so they can let you know what items you should bring with you to not only verify your identity but also substantiate the theft claims. Remember to request a copy, again, for your records.
  • After filing your reports, flagging or freezing your accounts, and reviewing your credit reports, the next step is to contact each of the credit bureaus directly. Each fraudulent item must have a dispute raised with the bureau it relates to. It is also wise to contact the lenders and collection agencies that are involved. As tedious and time consuming as this may be, cleaning up the mess gets harder and harder as time passes. The more effort you put into shutting down the thief immediately, will ensure there’s less mess to clean up later.
  • It is wise to keep a written log of which credit bureau, lender or collection agency you contact along with who was spoken to, instructions they gave, and what time the calls were made. Keeping these sorts of notes not only help keep track of all the steps that each company gives to resolve the fraud but also gives the victim leverage if later there is a subsequent fraudulent charge made despite the account flags and credit freeze.
  • It can also be a good idea to contact the businesses at which your identity was used falsely. If you noticed that your social security number was used to rent an apartment, contact the apartment complex. If your credit card information was used on Amazon.com, contact them and let them know about the fraud so that they can cancel any pending payments or shipments.
  • Once the mess has been cleaned up and you’re ready to open up your accounts again, ask to begin an extended fraud alert. Contacting each credit bureau directly will activate this service and it allows you to have a heightened security status put on your identity as well as access to two credit reports a year, as opposed to the one allowed normally.

Recovery Plan Checklist

Prevention: Warning Signs of Identity Theft

There are a few warning signs that personal information is or could be compromised. If a red flag is raised, a lot of damage can be avoided.

Debit/Credit Card

  • Make sure that no one seems too close or nosy when entering a pin number into an ATM or other debit machine. Turning the card reader away from prying eyes or shielding a pin code when entering it should be done every time. If anyone seems nosy, wait and let them go first and then finish after they leave.
  • Beware of people snooping through personal documents at home or work as this could lead to a compromise of security.

Web Safety

  • Notice that there is a difference between https:// and http://. The “s” will tell you if the site is a secure, or encrypted, site. This means that potential thieves cannot easily pilfer information you provide on this site. In addition, a secure site will show a picture of a closed padlock next to the domain name.
  • Check to see if the link presented to you in an email or text message is legitimate. Any text can become a clickable link but what it links to is obscured. Most popular browsers allow the user to hover over the link and it will reveal the true link at the bottom of the page or next to the link. This way, the user can see the link they’re presented with before clicking and accidentally exposing themselves to danger. Another precaution to take is to enter the link into com which, “analyzes a website through multiple blacklist engines and online reputation tools to facilitate the detection of fraudulent and malicious websites”. For shortened URLs, like bit.ly/ addresses, use Sucuri, which will expand the short link and search the actual destination link to make sure it is safe.
  • Do not click on any attachments in emails from unknown senders as they could automatically download malware software onto your computer that can be nearly impossible to remove.
  • Use trusted browsers that have built-in phishing protection. Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Edge are all designed to alert you of phishing websites before they are entered.
  • Any site that utilizes pop-up advertisements and has obnoxious ads should raise a red flag. These sites are usually created to generate income for the owner and more filler than actual useful information. Sites like these are more likely to be used for phishing and tricking the user into downloading malware.

Phishing

  • If anyone calls and requests personal information, immediately be suspicious of their identity. If they are truly from a bank, they should be able to verify your information to you, not require that you verify it with them. If you did not initiate the call, you can’t be sure that they are being honest about who they are. A good way to check that they are able to confirm multiple points of information about your account, including current balance or recent purchases.
  • Avoid any ploy that is emotionally charged or tries to create a sense of urgency, especially where scammers might try to make you feel scared or vulnerable. This is the easiest way for them to make someone give up personal information.
  • Be aware that any emails that come to your inbox from an unknown user with an emotional plea for help is likely a scam. No, there isn’t a prince in Kenya that needs help unlocking his multi-million dollar inheritance and needs your bank account information so he can reward you with a financial gift for helping him.
  • Check the email address from seemingly reputable companies. Generally, you will find a noreply@amazon.com or similar return email address. If the domain name after the @ symbol is not the corporation’s name, raise that red flag and proceed with caution.
  • When using Gmail, utilize the “authentication icon for verified senders” which will show a key symbol next to verified users. This should automatically be enabled with each account.
  • Be concerned if the “To:” and “Cc:” fields are addressed to multiple users. This generally means that random email addresses were generated using a computer and they’re just hoping someone bites on their scam.
  • Notice misspellings or improper grammar usage. Any legitimate company will not use poor grammar and punctuation. If it sounds fishy, it probably is.
  • Always check the domain name of the site you are on. If you think you are on twitter.com but the domain name is T V V rather than TW, it is likely a scam site set up to mirror a real site.
  • If an email claims to be from law enforcement and states that you are legally required to provide information, immediately call your local authorities. Law enforcement does not use email to contact people. Ever.

Tips for Strengthening your Data Security

Protecting your password should be a #1 priority. Most people don’t realize that wireless connections can be hacked relatively easily. If a user is on a wireless network at a local coffee shop he or she may be having everything they type logged using malware that is monitoring the network.

As a rule, avoiding malware in any form is integral to security. Apple computers are generally regarded as safer from malware because viruses are supposedly harder to create for their operating system along with them being less appealing because they are less used globally than windows computers. However, they are not impervious to spyware. Installing a network protection program such as Norton Anti-Virus can block infected downloads, warn you about known social media scams and flag suspicious content.

Using encrypted sites was mentioned in passing before but it is of utmost importance and needs to be remembered. If a website begins with http:// it is NOT encrypted and any information entered on it is subject to being public information. Only sites that begin with https:// are encrypted.

Alternatively, if you would like to take a more proactive stance at protecting online predators from getting your IP address, you could utilize a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, service. For as little as $5/month, VPN services mask your IP address and give you a generalized IP address from anywhere in the world you choose. Hackers won’t be able to use your IP address to access your confidential information any time you are utilizing this tool. Even better, it can be used on any computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone via a downloadable desktop application or smartphone app.

When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau. It is easy to do and can be a failsafe, validating the quality of a website or business. This is an especially helpful resource when considering buying something online. Before you hand over your credit card details for a cute shirt or a funny coffee mug, check the business to make sure it isn’t a fraud.

Passwords should be changed every 4-6 months, especially those linked to financial and medical institutions. Use a complex and unique password, utilizing capitalization, numerals, and symbols wherever possible. Also, passwords should not be the same across the board for every login. As complicated as it can be to remember each password, there are programs designed to keep track of that information for you. There are mobile apps for smartphones as well as desktop applications that keep track of passwords for you.

One highly recommended one is called LastPass, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile for free. It not only stores your passwords in a safe place but also has a strong password generator. It is integrated into your phone’s browser and will automatically fill in login details for you. Users can choose to generate new, secure passwords and it will automatically add or update their list for them. This makes changing passwords easy to keep track of. It also syncs with your other devices seamlessly, allowing family password sharing.

Another app option is called Keeper and is available for free on iOS, Windows Phone and Android. Not only does it keep passwords but it also can secure personal information and share it with trusted contacts directly from the app. It, too, has a password generator and can auto-fill login information. It offers iCloud backup and syncing for a charge but gives you a free 30-day trial.

If trusting apps isn’t appealing or if you don’t own a smartphone, you could also keep a written list of usernames and passwords in a secure location. When not in use, lists including sensitive information should be locked up in a safe.

As technology progresses, more secure technologies are becoming available. This includes, but is not limited to, voice recognition, iris-scanning, and fingerprint recognition. The fingerprint is already being utilized in iPhones, the HTC One M9+, the Samsung Galaxy A8, and a handful of others. Even better, apps that allow purchasing or could benefit from added security are using the fingerprint software built into these platforms. Already, Amazon.com, eBay, the iTunes store and many others are encouraging users to utilize the fingerprint in place of a password not only for ease of use but increased security. It doesn’t hurt that it is much quicker to press your finger to the sensor than to type a username and password.

Security extends far beyond the digital realm, too. Making sure that personal documents are shredded rather than just discarded is something most people don’t think about but should. If you don’t have a shredder, there are companies like UPS or The Office Depot that will shred documents for a nominal fee.

Finally, make sure you review your credit report annually. Under the FACT Act, Federal law allows you a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year. Make sure to run that report every year and review any flags for accuracy. Any incorrect information or reports can be disputed and an audit can be requested to review the information. Yes, it is time consuming and often arduous but it is absolutely worth the effort. Each of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, offer a subscription service that allows you to check your score whenever you want but you can access your free reports by going to the Annual Credit Report website. This is a secure, federally assembled website that asks you for your social security number so make sure you are on a secure computer and in a private place where no one might snoop over your shoulder while entering your information.

Find Help and Support

If you’re overwhelmed, it is understandable. There are so many threats coming at us from various angles and it is almost impossible to stay ahead of the new ploys being conceived each and every day. It might be a wise idea to consider investing in Identity Theft Protection. Their job is to watch your back by monitoring new accounts being opened in your name and even watch for suspicious activity on your credit accounts. It can be expensive but it is worth it. Which company you choose depends on whether your identity has been stolen yet or not. If you have already suffered identity theft, you may want to consider a company like ID Watchdog ($14.95 or $19.95/month), whose primary goal is to help you recover your identity, even if the offenses happened before you joined their service. If protection before identity theft happens is the goal, a company like Identity Force might be a good option (12.95/month with 30 day free trial or $19.95/month).

Tips and advice from Security Experts

Honestly, one of the best resources that I have found to date has been a compiled list of 87 security experts’ Twitter accounts. They tweet daily about the newest trends, news and security concerns to be aware of. There’s a comprehensive list found here and you can follow the experts individually or choose to follow all of them at the same time by accessing the list the author compiled.

Another useful list is by Heimdal security, which includes over 50 tips and tricks from various security experts and is a great resource to utilize.

Resources

Want to know more? Here are a few good places to look to find statistics and more in-depth information on identity theft and keeping security a priority.

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FreeBackgroundCheck.org Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

FreeBackgroundCheck.org is a data-pooling search site that offers many types of specific searching with the goal of getting you information quickly and efficiently. The accuracy of the information, however, is questionable and I would advise any users to do a double check on the information provided just to be thorough.

2.5
User Rating 2 (4 votes)
Sending

Pros

  • There is an astonishing amount of results propagated by each search. The probability that you are going to find something on the person you are searching is very high.

Cons

  • Many of the results returned are duplicate and/or incomplete. You may have 5 profiles that refer to the same person with different information in them. They would all be partially correct but none would give a cohesive report.
  • Searching took a long time. Both the initial search and subsequent ones stalled or failed multiple times.
  • Shuffling through incomplete information and incorrect details can get very confusing and concerning, especially when in reference to confused criminal and sex offender records! This is particularly important when you are searching someone you don’t know; You might not know that the information you are receiving is incorrect and that could influence you to make decisions that would be unfounded.

Meh

  • You were able to search many different ways, directing you to specific results that you may be interested. This could be helpful if you are desiring a very specific bit of information.
  • I also found it to be a little disconcerting that my IP address for multiple email addresses was provided. I can’t come up with many good reason why this information should be presented so readily.

Who is FreeBackgroundCheck.org?

I recently had to start over in life after a divorce and, though I had a home, I needed a new roommate. I put a few ads out on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. and got a handful of hits right away. I was particularly intrigued in a gentleman who responded to me through Facebook; I was able to look at his profile and could tell that we had quite a few things in common. I decided, just to be safe, to do a background check on him to make sure I wasn’t letting a creep into my home where my children would be coming to visit.

After a little online searching, I found FreeBackgroundCheck.org and it seemed like a very straightforward site with lots of search options so I gave it a try. My first clue should have been that I could not find any information on the site as to who the company behind the site was, where they were located, or how they started. Most companies will have an “about us” section where they proudly tell you about themselves and how they came into the business. I could not find anything about the company at all, even by searching on popular search engines.  

FreeBackgroundCheck.org Pricing and Available Plans

When signing up, I was offered 3 levels of access: 1 month of unlimited searches for $19.95/month, 1 week unlimited for $4.95, and just a single report for $29.95. I had a few people I could search if this gentleman wasn’t going to work out but I knew I would be making a decision within a week so I chose the 1 week option.

Nowhere on the sign-up does it say that the payments will auto-renew but I assumed it would, as this is how most of these sites work. I looked at my account and it showed my 7 day purchase and now listed it with the term “Trial” next to it. So, I dug into the Terms & Conditions and saw that it was a recurring charge unless you canceled the subscription. So, essentially, every 7 days it would charge me another $4.95 if I did nothing. I am pretty good at remembering to follow through on things like that so I decided it would be ok.

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How to Use FreeBackgroundCheck.org?

My initial search took quite a while. I was willing to wait, though, because it showed that it was searching in many areas.

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When the search was complete, it returned 54 results! I’m not sure if this is a good thing or bad in my situation, though. I don’t know much about this person other than the information I can find on their Facebook profile that they used to contact me. Because I only had his name and birthdate, I looked through the list to find people that were about 29 or 30 years old. Quite a few entries were returned without a birth date but one entry said the man was 29, which would make him most likely to be the guy I was looking for.

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I didn’t know any of his relatives or locations so none of that information was of much help to me but I could see how that might make a huge difference for others.

The report generated very little information. There were minimal details given beyond his name, date of birth, age and address.

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It gave only one address for him and then listed 3 sex offenses. This immediately caught my attention and decided to look further into these. The link was clickable but only brought up his profile again; it did not give any information about the offenses themselves.

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Below, there were two death records listed but upon looking deeper into them I realized that they were both for other people who had been much older.

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5 email addresses were listed but 4 of them were associated with someone at a different address and the person had a different middle initial. The 5th result was, again, associated with a different address and I did not have faith that it was correct.

That is it, honestly… It didn’t give me any more information than that. So, I decided to look at other people that might be him. I asked the gentleman coyly where he was living currently so I could send him a lease agreement to review and he gave me his address. I used this information to make sure I had the right person and was surprised to find that it actually was the correct address but that it was tied to three separate profiles, one with the correct birth date, one older person and one person with no birth date listed.

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I checked each profile out individually and the one with no birth date listed 90 (Yes, 90!) traffic violations, most of which were duplicates. It also listed the same 3 sex offenses and email addresses as the original profile. The older gentleman, who I would assume is my guy’s father, gave 5 addresses but listed the current address as the same which would suggest that my potential roommate was living at home with his parents at almost 30 years old. That doesn’t really bode well with me because I would assume he isn’t paying rent there and might not consistently pay me on time. The older gentleman’s profile also listed the same 3 sex offenses and 5 email addresses.

It was at this point that I decided to look into the sex offenses to see if it was even the correct person. Upon searching the state’s sex offender registry it turns out it isn’t even remotely close to the same person, having been born at a different time and living at a different address than any listed for either person. This is concerning because if someone was not diligently checking into the validity of the information provided they could easily accuse someone wrongly of a very serious crime and potentially really screw up a relationship.

I did find it nice that there was a menu on the left of the page that would let you search specifically for criminal records, arrests, court records, sex offender, and many more. If you were looking for specific information, this could be very helpful. All you have to do is click on how you want to search, put in the name and it brings up a bunch of results.

It also lets you search by phone number and address in case you didn’t have someone’s name and just that information. To test its accuracy, I searched my ex wife’s address and, though the house was in her name alone, it lists that house as owned by me and that I am married and the current occupant. That has not been my residence since we split 5 years ago.

How Good is FreeBackgroundCheck.org Data?

I had become very skeptical so I decided to check the validity of the rest of the information being provided by checking my own report. Four results were returned and all four were incorrect. They were someone in a different city with a different middle name and I was nowhere to be found.

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I tried, instead, to search my maiden name and that finally returned some positive results. However, none of them were fully correct.

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The most correct one listed an old address as the current and then listed two phone numbers that were landlines not connected with either address. It also listed 4 email addresses, 2 of which were incorrect and none of which were current and valid. This is only concerning because I currently have 6 active email addresses that I use on a regular basis for both business and personal effect and they are no secret online and on my small business’ website. The fact that they were not picked up shows a lack of information being reported.

How do I Cancel FreeBackgroundCheck.org?

I decided to immediately cancel my subscription. I didn’t feel like anything I found was trustworthy which made it pointless to search other candidates. It also made me feel like the company itself might give me trouble cancelling which was, sadly, the case. When I had looked up the Terms of Service previously I had noticed a link to cancel the subscription. I followed that link and was directed to a “Send Help Request” with a drop-down menu to choose “Account Cancellation” from. I added comments to let them know I wanted to cancel and then waited for an email in response.

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The next day, I received an email apologizing for the lapse in reliable information, confirmed cancellation and assured me that I would not be charged further.

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FreeBackgroundCheck.org Final Thoughts

Though FreeBackgroundCheck.org returns a wide variety of information, I did not find it to be accurate or reliable, which is very important to me. When it comes to background checks and sexual predator histories, it is important to be sure that the information you are being presented is linked with the correct person.

I was not able to get the information I desired from this search so I ended up having to sign up for a different search site that came much more highly recommended. At the end of the day, I only spent $4.95 so I wasn’t too upset about the financial loss. Lesson learned!

15

TruthFinder Review

Our Truthfinder Summary:  Out of all the various background check services we've tested, Truthfinder is the most accurate and offers some of the best data out there.

TruthFinder Overall Rating:

Visit Truthfinder Now:

Pros

  • Content, content, content! There were so many sections with information, direct links to social networks, and contact information.
  • All of the information was well organized and easy to find, with a navigation menu to help you get where you want to go quickly.
  • Not only were the social media links provided but they were expanded upon, showing recent content, user IDs, and profile picture.
  • The search produced information that went back over 15 years.

Cons

  • There seemed to be a few small incorrect links to social media as well as email and phone records but they were rather minor.

Meh

  • There were some pertinent bits of information that were left out, such as my schooling and various forms of contact.

Who is TruthFinder?

I stumbled upon TruthFinder.com as I was searching for answers. I had fallen out of contact with a good friend of mine when she moved across the country just after high school. I heard she had moved to California and started her family in Los Angeles but beyond that there wasn’t much known about her. I was going to be visiting Los Angeles for a business trip, so I decided to try to find her so we could connect while I was out there. When I searched Facebook, there were entirely too many people and no way to know which was her. I knew I needed help searching so I went looking for a really reputable site that could help. I found TruthFinder.com to be the best option.

As it turns out, their home office is located in San Diego, California. They’re a relatively new company, starting out in the spring of 2015, but perhaps that worked to their advantage. They seem to be focused on acknowledging information found in social media and making the most of the ever-expanding web of content and information that is available online. They make a point to let you know that they are keeping your information as well as your searches confidential, which is not something you find very often online these days.

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I decided to search for my friend and it gave me a list of a few people who would match my search, each showing age, relatives, cities lived in, etc so I could choose the right person.

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Once I chose my person, it did a very thorough search of any possible online resources, including social networks!

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Visit TruthFinder

TruthFinder Pricing and Available Plans

The pricing and package options were very straightforward; $27.78/month if you wanted to take your subscription one month at a time or you could choose to start with a 3 month subscription for $23.02/month but you have to pay the 3 months ($69.07) up front. There were not confusing trial periods or hidden charges. They told you exactly what you received for the price and let you choose if you wanted to continue or not. I was able to view a sample report directly on the site and it gave me confidence that it would return the information I was seeking and help me locate my friend.

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Once I got my report, I was very impressed! It gave me an incredible amount of information and it was almost like I was able to trace her life like a storyline from when she moved from Michigan and where she had gone since. There were still a few details I wanted so I decided to upgrade to get a complete report, called a “Premium Report Upgrade”.

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It gave me access to additional details like business associates, professional licenses, corporate affiliations, prior addresses, properties owned, etc. for $17.47. I decided that it was worth the small cost and, with this additional information, I was able to track my friend down quickly!

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In case you are intimidated by the price, they offer the opportunity to invite your family and friends to join and when they sign up you BOTH get a free premium report credit.

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Also, for $2, it gave you the option to download reports as a .PDF file to your computer so that you could keep it stored or print it out. I opted not to do this but it was not much of a cost for an option that could be very convenient for some people.

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Visit TruthFinder

How to Use TruthFinder?

The TruthFinder report I received is by far the most comprehensive collection of information I have ever received. It is easy to understand, has a very direct menu of sections on the left that will bring you where you want to go, and it doesn’t make you click 100 links to get to all the information but, instead, organizes it neatly for you all in one place.

When you first open up the report, you are given step-by-step navigation to help you get around quickly and concisely.

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Your “home page” is very nicely organized with the search bar at the top asking you simply for first and last name, as well as your state. All of your previous searches are saved below in a column that allows you to sort by most recently viewed, name, age, etc. There are quite a few applications where this could be very helpful.

When you open a report on someone, they not only list their name but also their birthdate, age, astrological sign and any known aliases. This proved to be the first step I needed in finding my friend. I realized that she had gotten married somewhere along the way and her name had changed, which explains why I didn’t find her on social media under her maiden name.

Directly below that, it matched possible pictures of the person which help you make sure you’ve got the right person. It had been 20 years but her face was the same and I could see from the pictures that she had children and grandchildren!

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Her jobs throughout the years were listed as well as her education, from undergraduate to graduate degree work at various universities across the country. Not only did it list the school but it went as far as to tell you the degree area and the dates attended.

Relatives from both her family and her husbands were listed very clearly and each one gave basic information on each person such as where they lived and how old they were. Each one also had a link to let you look directly at their report and showed a drop-down list of each of the relative’s relatives. Once again, above and beyond what I expected.

I was absolutely blown away by the list of related links that I was presented with. Every type of social media I could come up with was listed and even some I had never heard of. I was able to directly connect via link to her Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, etc. Essentially, anything that she had been directly tagged in was listed.

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What was most important to me was the phone number section. It provided every phone number she had been connected with throughout the years. Most sites only give you the number but this told you who the carrier was, if it was a landline or cell phone, if it was prepaid, the location, and whether or not it was connected. It gave me 4 options, one of which was listed as current and connected, and I was able to call and be directly connected to her. Now, I’m not shy but if you were trying to be a bit more discrete or cautious you could utilize the email address section and possibly shoot off an email quickly.

Previous addresses were also listed; basically, anywhere she had received mail at in the last 20+ years was shown. From businesses to home addresses, each was labeled as to its usage (business, residential, PO Box, etc) as well as whether or not it was deliverable and currently receiving mail. A map was very clearly displayed and let you see a visual representation of each location. The map was interactive and let you zoom in and out for perspective but I wish it would have enlarged so you could see it better.

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Nearer to the bottom, it listed criminal record, driving infractions, and sex offender registration for both the person you’re searching as well as in relation to each of the addresses they were linked to.

As if that wasn’t enough, it also went into detail about her astrological sign. It told me things I basically already knew and offered me a compatibility test so we could compare our signs and see if we might someday fall deeply in love. As the likelihood of that is slim to none, I disregarded it. However, for someone who was searching information on a lover or someone they met on an online dating site this could be very helpful.

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I did notice that they offered an Android app but, since I do not have an Android platform phone, it was of no use to me.

What I did find very interesting was that at the very top of the page you were asked to review the information, rating the quality of the content with a 5-star rating system and it also allowed you to flag the report as inaccurate. I would assume that this would be most helpful when researching one’s self.

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How Good is Truthfinder Data?

It was the information review that piqued my interest initially to search myself but I also wanted to make sure that the information I was getting on my friend was trustworthy. Not only did I search myself but I got a little carried away with friends and relatives. The unlimited searching can be a little addictive!

For the most part, the information I found about myself was accurate. It did not list a current phone number for me but it had about half of my email addresses and most of my social network information.

The LinkedIn section was very clearly off and I am assuming that it somehow linked to another person who has the same name as me, though that is uncommon. Because of that, my education background and work history was incorrect. I do not have a LinkedIn account so perhaps that is where the issue stemmed from.

I was incredibly taken aback at the amount of information the search on myself had amassed. I guess I didn’t realize how much of my information was being made public by social media venues. It even had a car accident that I had been in back 10 years ago because it had gone to court. It showed everything – the municipality in which the accident occurred, the date, the court case number, offense type and description, plea, status, and the final outcome.

All in all, I would say the information provided was about 80% correct.

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How do I cancel TruthFinder?

When I had made contact with my friend, I decided to cancel my subscription. I remembered at the sign-up I had been given a phone number to call so I went to search for that. To my surprise, under Your Account / Membership Settings it gave me the option to cancel online. It gave a quick drop-down list to select why you were cancelling the service.

I submitted my option and was then offered a discounted rate of $9.97/month to continue my account. I did not have any use for the service so I decided against it but it was very tempting.

Once canceled, it confirmed and said that I would still have access to my canceled subscription until the end date so I was able to continue throughout the month I had paid for.

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TruthFinder Final Thoughts

All in all, I was very impressed and quite happy with TruthFinder.com. Not only did it find the person I had failed to find through multiple other venues, but it gave me a wealth of information and ways to contact her. It was easy to use, well organized, and an overall very pleasant experience. I ended up paying just about $30 to find a long lost friend and it was absolutely worth every penny. We were able to connect while I was in town and this has changed both of our lives going forward.

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  • Price
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  • Interface/Features
4.8
User Rating 3 (1 vote)
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