Spokeo may know more about you than you realize


Spokeo is a new site that claims to not be your "grandma's phonebook." This is because it pulls a ton of info about you from all over the web into one place. And I mean a ton. More than you might be comfortable with, in fact.

But luckily, it appears you can "remove your Spokeo listing from public searches for free" by following these simple instructions.

Also!: If you visit spokeo.com for any reason, you may want to delete any browser cookies from "spokeo" afterwards. It seems they install a grip of them. (Thanks for the heads-up, Chris Hardwick)


  1. According to this I make around $325k a year. Take THAT, ex-girlfriends who are undoubtedly punching my name into internet search engines to figure out where they went wrong in life!!!

    1. I think that is supposed to be the value of your house, as last estimated for purposes of calculating property taxes.

  2. Whatever their sources are, they’re a little outdated. According to this site I still live with my parents and enjoy “travel cooking”, whatever that is.

  3. I’m not too worried. Apparently I’m still single, yet have one child (really wondering where THAT came from).

    Not too accurate.

  4. US only then? Good. I’m not sure how something like this would fly here, given the Data Protection Act.

  5. Funny how the only stories I have seen about this site cover the procedure to remove your listing. Is this some scam to link your data to an ip address?

  6. weird. i wish i were the guy they make me out to be. it has one of my many college addresses and one of my many hollywood addresses, and both postings have me making half a million dollars–if only.

  7. i have come across other sites that actually name my family and friends, employment, etc. unless it gets more revealing if i submit a few dollars, it did not shock me as much as the others.

  8. maybe since i did not find as much on this site, i am covering my tracks better than before? i’m on the lamb.

  9. Definitely out of date. It has my last 3 addresses dating back to 2004, but it doesn’t show my current address, where I’ve lived for over a year.

  10. Way wrong here too. You will get better info on me through Google. I wish my house was worth $1M+. There’s a freakout on FaceBook about these sites. I suspect a trick to get you to search for yourself and catch cookies.

  11. They nailed my house, but my “annual” income was closer to lifetime.
    Apparently I’m married to my dog.

  12. The financial data is so off it is laughable, but the fact that it is more or less accurate regarding the age and relationship status, and has a Google Street View picture of my house associated with my name makes me queasy. I live in a rough neighborhood. I don’t need more people knowing that I’m a single female living alone.

  13. It’s a very useful site. I tracked down Adolph Hitler in seconds! Nazi war criminals can no longer hide, even if they have been dead for decades. In fact, a lot of folks in this database are dead, and let’s not talk about what they consider a “household”.

    Aside from tracking down war criminals and deceased celebrities, I’m not sure how useful site is. Perhaps if they made it a bit more like Facebook with “typical” updates, it might be real fun.

  14. I concur with the inaccuracy of the site…It only has my parent’s address and none of my addresses used in the last 8 years, including 2 different states with auto registrations. My brother is nowhere to be found on it in any form…
    And the most humorous of all…it had my grandparent’s house address correct, but only noted them as living there for 15 years (truthfully, it is probably 60), and it shows the residents as 3 variations of my grandma’s name plus her son who shares the same name as her husband.

    1. I was able to view minimal information by typing in my name, and clicking on the headers on the ensuing pop-up window.

      my data, too, is absurdly off. I’m making $350,000/year…own the house I briefly rented a room in years ago…it has no names for my parents, but still has them living in a city I haven’t lived in for 4 years…that they’ve never lived in

      in general, I’ve kept my life very private and prefer to keep it that way thank-you-very-much. Googling my name literally pulls up zero data on me.

      1. All I get is that me-with-middle-initial lives with me-without-middle-initial, and satellite or street views of my last and current address. I guess that means that they don’t have anything on me. It probably helps that there are 758 of me just in California.

    2. Yes, answer your Mod! How are people seeing the full profiles? Are you all signing up (and paying) or what? I’m curious about my hobbies!

  15. Apparently I am also a single female, bringing in about 300k a year. Not even close. The only thing it got right was my address, and I think just about anyone could find that pretty easily.

    1. I seem to leave behind copies of myself when I move; there are at least 3 of me there. (I’m guessing that the data is coming partly from magazine subscriptions and charities.) Also, I think I’m winning the virtual salary competition so far – both me and my wife have “salaries” of $703,000. Which is an order of magnitude off from both my salary and what I understand to be the local median.

  16. This speaks to the advantage of chaffing, e.g., putting as much bad data about yourself as possible out on the internet. I sign up to each site with a slightly different address in my home city. I change my age, gender, income, and marital status each time.
    It helps having a common name, too. Take that, Google!

    BTW, I’m Joseph, I live on Oakwood Blvd, and I’m a thrice-divorced 47 year-old electrician.

  17. “Dear Sketchy Website:

    I am hereby confirming the following information about me is accurate enough for me to desire it’s removal. Please associate this information with this email addres [paste], my IP address [yoink] and the approximate location I am browsing from [zap]. Furthermore, please correlate all this information to form a more accurate picture of me, and then add it to a relational database for sale to the highest bidder. But to make me feel better, hide this correlated information from view on your sketchy website.

    Most sincerely,

    1. Zackly. I was pretty sure it was US-only because I know of a couple of other people with my name who are all over Google in the UK, but even if it wasn’t and still couldn’t find me there’s no way in hell I’d be typing my email address or phone number into that thing. I was almost reluctant to put my name in, but I gave it a spin anyway.

      It can’t find Julian Assange either.

  18. Despite my best efforts, it has my address and nothing else. I made a rule for myself long ago (1994) that I would never post my personal info anywhere on the internet. I have only broken this rule with two banks I do business with.

    I would like to know where they get their info from – not even my friends or the bulk of my family know my address.

    I have a dollar on government info.

    Antinous: that’s funny, I thought your name was pretty unique outside of Greece =p

  19. Wow. My brand new, up to date computer has problems signing into boing boing. Imagine that. Having said that, I am 41 years old and remember when you had to hire a PI to get info of any sort on someone. And now you tell me that yet another web site has info on me? Honestly, I couldn’t care less. I don’t see how this information could possibly harm me in any way.

  20. Well, they certainly have my address and marital status correct, but they’re adding 10 years to my age. Bastards.

  21. A lot of people are reporting on wildly high estimates of their income. In poking around for various family members I haven’t seen any data claiming to be personal income. What I have seen, though, is estimates of home value. I think that may be what people are looking at. For single-family houses, that info is easily obtainable from real estate websites and that info seemed to be fairly accurate.

    The four different listings it had for me, though, are all apartments or, oddly, a UPS Store where I had a mailbox five years ago. It had estimates of my home values there, too, and I have no idea where they were basing those on.

    1. A lot of people are reporting on wildly high estimates of their income. In poking around for various family members I haven’t seen any data claiming to be personal income. What I have seen, though, is estimates of home value. I think that may be what people are looking at. For single-family houses, that info is easily obtainable from real estate websites and that info seemed to be fairly accurate.

      Exactly. Fairly amazing to see the “tech savvy” commentors here on BoingBoing incapable of differentiating between real estate value and salary estimates. All of the folks saying “Look, it says I make $300,00 a year…” look again.

      Also I can tell you my experience in removal:

      A few months ago I was given a heads-up about this place, and it had old addresses and info from when I lived elsewhere. I did the removal dance as instructed, and that old info disappeared. Yay!

      But when I checked it within in the past hour, I was listed but only with more updated info. So I requested that info be removed, and there you go.

      So the pattern here seems to be: “We will gladly remove your info on the site if you request it today. If after today we get new info about you, we will add it publicly. Your request to remove data is only from the moment of the request backwards; not a standing request to be removed forever.”


      1. you’re right. I mistook the symbol…a house with coins next to it…to mean “household income.” It clearly matches the value listed for my home. derp.

      2. “Your request to remove data is only from the moment of the request backwards; not a standing request to be removed forever.”

        That’s exactly why I don’t bother with removing data from these sites. The data they house is usually all publicly available. The only real way to control the information people farm about you is to control the information that is originally posted about you. Some public information (such as personally titled homes) will be automatically tied to your name, but you opt to participate in social networking sites (and to what degree you expose yourself on them). Rather than cleaning up leaks like this site, I think it’s a much safer practice to do things like concentrate on watching existing funds for un-allowed transactions, regularly changing passwords, and practicing some self control about private data when you post.

        For those who are concerned about keeping a low profile, but still want to own property: we may now have reached the point where you’re safest letting a trust run a property for you. Doing so will allow your name to be kept off the quickly searchable documents. It has its own problems, but if you’re genuinely concerned about being sought out, it’s one more defense.

      3. Dude, it has me correctly living in an apartment and then has a little house with money next to it. My assumption was household income since I don’t live in both an apartment and a house. However given the accuracy of the info that may be what they were going for. This reminds me exactly of those little product registration cards you fill out and I’m wondering if registering for a free PS magazine with purchase is what did me in.

  22. I found pretty accurate information on some people I know and pretty inaccurate information on some others. But I think what everyone else is interpreting as salary estimation is actually home value estimation, which may just be an average for a certain neighborhood. Doesn’t look to me that you can get any more specific information (for free, anyway) than you can from ZabaSearch.

    Entering an old e-mail gave me information that seems to come from Geocities, Blogger and MySpace – the latter including some actual pictures, which kind of bugs me.

  23. HMMM.

    They have my name, no middle initial, the two addresses Ive lived in the past 10 years at which I no longer live, and thats about it for free. Im not too worried, as my name combination is pretty common irish.

    Im guessing they got the info from postal records or amazon?

    Interestingly, my oldest address isnt on there, but its pre-internet. Im going to chalk my obscurity up to not being on facebook.

  24. Not very impressive – I don’t exist. I can find dozens of links to myself on google. It must be keyed on social networking sites – I’m not visible on any of them.

    1. Actually I’m not on FB or MS or any other networking sites either. Maybe that’s why it mainly has my street addy and not much else. I suppose it would have been more accurate about my age if I was on more social sites… But if I was going to lie about my age, I wouldn’t ADD ten years!

  25. I wonder if it guesses income based on internet savvy. It could have done a lot better with me, that’s for sure. Wrong address, doesn’t know I’m married. Hold on a minute–where is my wedding ring?

  26. Two of the three mes listed live together in a PO box (one got it right though, the other two, even though the same PO box, had different google map locations!). All of us make 200K each (hey, Can I get a loan on that info?)

    It’s truly the Cuil if information gathering sites. :-D

  27. When I worked for a loan company there was an ID authentication company we worked with to prevent fraud. It was obscene the amount of info they had on you based on public records–not necessarily internet data. So if you think you’re safe just because you’re smart on the web, you may want to think twice.

  28. Epic fail. All I get is that my name (which I’d typed in) with a middle-initial that doesn’t exist (I don’t have one), and satellite or street views of a house I sold in 1987, in a country I no longer live in.

    I’m petrified.

  29. What’s stopping people from de-listing the entire website or all John Smiths? Sounds like all you need is a mailserver that accepts any address and forwards all of it to one account and a bit of automation on the pulling side to ramp urls into a db. The captcha on their side is the sticker but make solving their captcha as a gatekeeper for a porn site…. Then you could use curl/wget to imitate a browser and open the links sent in via the email.

  30. It’s stalkeriffic- I love it! Found that nasty ex-girlfriend, mail-bomm is on the way!
    I’m on the lamb, but I ain’t no sheep!

  31. I don’t see how this software is the least bit nefarious, seeing how it gathers data. I think it’s pretty cool, honestly. Then I again, I know the difference between a public and private persona.

  32. Hilarious. Since when is Spokeo ‘new’? You guys seem to have been living in a cave for the last several YEARS. Companies like this and WhitePages.com, etc., all have massive amounts of public records information on hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. These are _public_ records. That means YOU gave this out, signed away, initialed, clicked a box (or didn’t click a box), etc., and this is the result. I guess everyone here is new to the Internets or something. It’s a series of tubes. You know that ‘privacy policy’ link you always skip? There you go.

  33. Apparently my wife, who’s been dead for ten years is now alive and a male. The transexual zombie apocalypse has begun.

  34. For me it has the wrong marital status and at least 20 years too many on my age, living in a house with my parents, which is a new house they moved into long after I’d moved away and have never shared with them.

    I’m pretty O.K. with that “information” being out there.

  35. I guess we won’t be pissed off enough to react until they’re using satellite tech to take brain-mapped electro-chemical info right out of our skulls. But, then again, that sounds like crazy talk doesn’t it? Just like this information would have sounded thirty years ago. Just let ’em keep at it; what could it hurt?

  36. i read about this on scopes, and it said that this may just be a venue for collecting emails…since when you ask for privacy you put in your email and they never do anything about it.

  37. Couldn’t even find me, and I’ve got resumes posted all over the internet with all my contact info, as well as a totally unprotected, open-for-all-to-see FB.

  38. I can never get any decent information about myself online because my name is too common. If I am to believe my hype, I am a movie producer, a doctor, a professor of the humanities, a published author and none of my photos match.

  39. Yeah… they list my previous residence and I am living with the current occupant. Weird. Definitely not perfect.

  40. It can’t find me at all despite the fact that I have about the most unique name in the U.S. and I use it as my username on pretty much every site on the internet.

  41. I allegedly don’t exist either, and it’s not like I’ve tried very hard to be private. Guess I fail at notoriety. I can live with this.

  42. wow,
    the data is OLD, like 3 moves old…

    despite the fact that my Name (a fairly unique one, as I only share it with my father) pulls 68,000 hits on google (thank you boing boing)or that I own my own business (again, Thank You BoingBoing)regiestered with the state, local and federal jurisditions…,

    so, no paniks here

    nothing to see here- move along

  43. I found out about this the other day. I have an issue with it because my grandmother is a federal judge and they have posted her actual street address. I don’t now how they got this address since by law all judges mail is delivered to the nearest federal courthouse and their addresses and phone numbers are not allowed to be published. However, there it was in black and white.

  44. I wish I never saw this post or that site. On my initial visit, Spokeo had one past address, and three other guys who have the same name. Only my age range and sex were listed. I then attempted a de-listing by providing a non-primary email add’. Apparently, there’s enough info associated with that email, because on a second look, not five minutes later, I find a second listing with more details (household members, all accurate, except from a previous period in my life). I’m an idiot. Don’t be an idiot like me. Move along.

  45. Apparently I have a sibling with the same name as me. I had no idea. I must search this person out and find out why we grew up separated.

  46. I dunno…Spokeo located Jimmy Hoffa and D.B. Cooper for me, so kudos…

    Judge Crater (aka Joseph Force Crater) didn’t fare so well, though, so BOOOOdos…

  47. There are a lot of Bilbo Baggins’ (422 in the US) but none in my home town of Hobbiton! Whats the deal?

  48. @#73: So what happens if I use my email to request that they remove someone else who shares my name? Very tempted to try it…

  49. According to this service, I am married to my father and own my parents’ house with him. My mother does not exist, nor does my younger sister, who still lives with my parents. No entry for me where I actually live — thousands of miles from where I grew up.

  50. This site thinks my wife (unique name, but masculine spelling) is a single man living at my address, but it doesn’t know who I (common-as-dirt name) am. Our house was recorded as a joint ownership property fifteen years ago.

    The dollar amount is what you will see on Zillow for the house value.

    So what’s the big deal? Ignore it and it will go away. Even if it doesn’t, it’s no more information than you could get by spending fifteen minutes at the county courthouse.

  51. Ok, well, it knew name, address, telephone. As others have said, income way high (though it’s probably a good guess as to my house value). “Remove” worked for me (at least for the time being). If I searched by e-mail addresses, it always said it found something (money required for more info), even on addresses that had a typo, or addresses that were intentionally bogus.

  52. Glad I was able to easily remove the listing, but the site had several things, such as my income and even my house location on the satellite shot (the arrow was pointed at my neighbor’s house). Still, too close for comfort.

    1. Spokeo hasn’t heard of New Zealand either. I suppose as long as I don’t live in America I’m safe from most of this kind of stuff.

  53. The site has what appears to be the township assessor’s value for my house. It’s right on my age. It hasn’t figured out that I have a husband or live with him. So far, I’m not worrying.

  54. Hahahaha, it can’t find me. I live in the US, so the australia excuse doesn’t apply. Excellent. Excellent.

  55. I apparently live at my house with my wife & a clone of myself. It’s much easier breaking up the chores that way.

  56. I have a theory that most of the info comes from Social Security and from credit rating agencies… in the free information they have my age, correct addresses, house value etc.
    I do not have facebook account. Also, the addresses are accurate – me thinks that W2 info that goes to Social Security is the source of that..or banks but that does not seem likely..How do you protect that info?

  57. Want to mess up their accuracy? Search for someone you know (or some random person) then do a removal request. I don’t doubt they’re associating IPs with removal requests, but if they get numerous ones from the same IP it should help muddy the waters (read: “poison the data”).

    You can do several per hour/day, so I intend to do this periodically for the next few weeks whenever I’m bored. Kind of like a New Years resolution. :)

  58. It had an alarming amount of info on me, but the removal process took me out of the search results immediately. Thanks for the tip, boingboing!

  59. it’s not that new. i removed my stuff from it about a year ago. well, i removed one of two listings. the fairly accurate one. the one with info ten years out of date, i left.
    but i can tell you that i have searched it several times for my info to see if it pops up again in the last several months and it hasn’t so far

  60. Regarding the inaccurate income, wouldn’t it be a hoot if the IRS started using it as a basis for audits?…

  61. They think I’m way richer than I am, live somewhere that I haven’t lived in years, and they think my husband is twenty years older than he is. That would explain all the AARP paper spam, lately.

  62. I’m going to go anonymous here and say that in spite of me having a very high profile on the web, they found three other people with my name, and completely failed to find me. It appears that they ARE my grandmother’s phone book, from about 1935, at that.

  63. Even the “paid” databases that Private Investigators have access to are flawed (though not quite at the level of SPOKEO).
    A friend of mine is a licensed PI and I bet him he could not find the name of my ex-wife.
    He thought this info database system he subscribed to was flawless and could do anything. Not only could he NOT find my ex-wife’s name, he could find no record that I was ever previously married even though I gave him clues.
    He did tell me that the databases says we bought our home from our next door neighbor “Robert” despite the fact that the home was purchased 35 years ago from the original owner and while “Robert” was a next door neighbor, he and his family had only lived next door for 3 years. The database showed that he still lived their despite the fact that the home had been torn down by a developer.
    My friend the PI insisted that the info was all true because he paid a lot of money to use that database and it was all “vetted” unlike the “free” ones.

  64. May well be something suspicious going on. Won’t accept a “spamcop.net” email as valid in their removal process. Makes me twitchy when they want to know your direct email.

  65. Apparently my mother is not only 25 years younger than I thought, but she is in fact my sister. I’ve been living a lie!

  66. I found my unlisted home address on there a while back (like many journos, I have an off-site mailbox in case of crazies). The take-down forms didn’t work, so I sent a wrathful email. Spokeo responded quickly – I’ll give the creeps that!

  67. Neither of my names (long story) pull up any data. I do spread misinformation around, and I’m careful about real info. Still, I have (seldom used) Facebook accounts under each of those names, own a home, pay taxes, have online financial accounts, etc. Makes me wonder where they’re getting their data from.

  68. It must be based upon real-estate value. A friend of mine who used to live with her mom, in a country club, came up as +600K a year… when I know for a fact that when she lived there she was making a smidge over minimum wage (wouldn’t mind having parents that loaded though). My girlfriend was also put at $89K… who hasn’t been in the states for 4 years, and I’m pretty sure rented the basement of the property it’s calculating that on.

  69. The site knew more about me than I was comfortable with and the info was more accurate than I would have liked so I used the opt-out feature last night. When I accessed the site today and tried to get my info the fields were blank.

  70. This is kind of creepy, but for different reasons than you might think:
    The only thing listed about me that’s even remotely accurate is the value of the home I live in. Everything else is hilariously wrong. The listing thinks my age is more than double what it actually is, my marital status is wrong (I’ve never been married so there’s no excuse to think I currently am)… this is a creepy poltergeist of extreme incompetence.

    I would be happy to have so little known about me, if it didn’t appear that someone had just fabricated details to fill in the blanks.

  71. Let’s see, I’m a female, who lives in two houses, is married to a woman and makes both $196k and $256k a year. But to their credit they did get the addresses, my mother’s first name and general age bracket correct.

    1. “makes both $196k and $256k a year”

      I assume that the information is bullshit and intended for you to “brag” about and give more free publicity to the site. Successful, from what it would seem.

  72. They had nothing on me, nor on a couple of other people I know. I am online under my real name in a few places, and I even gave them a few clues.
    I’m not disappointed at all, but from reading some of the results upthread this must be VERY spotty.

  73. They have my dog listed, they don’t have her age but they have the right address and they have that she’s in a relationship.
    The basic info they have for me is correct but they have me living in a different house than my dog.

  74. I move around a lot, so there are several entries of me. one has my home being worth $310,000. Problem: THAT WAS A HOMELESS SHELTER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. This is interesting. I found I now have someone in Ohio who is (roughly) the same age as me, and shares my exact first and last names, though fortunately not my middle initial.

    I don’t show up at all. Anonimity FTW!

  76. Assuming this site doesn’t have privileged access to personal data sources, and only crawls the public web for personal data, it’s rather pointless to request delisting, as some other competitor to Spokeo could find the same data in the same way again (or very, very determined individuals seeking details about you could do the same sort of thing Spokeo has automated). So maybe just deal with these sites some other way… In other words, this is kind of like the “Streisand effect.”

    However, if Spokeo does have privileged access to personal data sources, then I demand they shut down the entire website, permanently. I have no tolerance for Spokeo being able to, say, peer into my email account(s) and share such data.

    I also would like to comment that the data they found about me is quite accurate, but some details are missing. I have to guess this is because I don’t think those missing details have ever been posted anywhere on the entire internet (“privately” or publicly), though those details aren’t that “sensitive,” and I’d be fine with other people knowing them, it’s just they’ve never been posted (Obviously I won’t give anything specific about what Spokeo does and doesn’t have, as I’m posting anonymously…)

  77. If I were to pay for this service I would be very disappointed. All of the information that showed up for my wife and I is public information. Remember, birth certificates, wedding licenses, etc., are public information.

    I would be especially disappointed because the information is so wrong. My wife has lived in our apt. for 4 years and as a kid. I’ve lived there for 8 and don’t. We’ve been here >8 years and don’t have any kids. As with everyone else whose posted, our income and interests are just wrong.

  78. This is just another tease for another monthly fee data-mining site. The data is sub-par, inferior to what you can get other places for free. Whoop-de-friggin-do.

  79. What it claims to do: removes you entirely from Spokeo.
    What it actually does: confirms your e-mail address.

    1. I used yopmail.com, logging in from work, and cleared my cookies after.

      I’m pretty sure that info could be found otherwise but I’d like people to have to work a little harder for it.

      Also, it was mostly wrong anyway. It had me living in properties that various family members own or used to own, but not in any of the places I have ever signed my name to. It showed me as being married to my father. So I took the liberty of clearing off my family members from the site too since I know they wouldn’t like it only to find that it also had my dad’s mom listed as my mother’s mom. So apparently it thinks my dad and mom are brother and sister and that after their divorce I married my dad.

      Not to mention that between our various households we’re apparently making a few million a year.

      It also had strange phone numbers attached to these identities so I’d feel a little bad for the random strangers that would get called if some one tried to use that info.

      The kicker?

      My address is online anyway. Google would be a better way to find me :/

  80. Scarily it had most of my family on there. Only missing one sibling, who hates the internet and thinks computers are the devil….iiiiinteresting.

  81. When I refuse to give any cookies for Spokeo, it can’t find anything.
    There are over 500 people with my name + last name in Facebook, and the last time I checked in Linkedin there were around 30 as well.
    But cookie-deprived Spokeo didn’t find a single listing for my name in US.

  82. Well, it had never heard of me. It had a 12-year-old address for my dad, and that was it. No family tree, no pictures, no kids. This site does not bother me in the least – there is nothing here that a 12-year-old phone book doesn’t have.

  83. Odd. It doesn’t know me at all, despite Google having over 4000 hits on my first/last name (and my last name is extremely unusual – as far as I see, all the google hits are me).

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