AARP Eye Center
Ever google somebody and find hints of a sketchy past? You're not alone. Just be aware that the revelations you discover online might not be true.
On Monday, the Department of Justice sued a company whose website offers free and for-a-fee background checks and which allegedly implied, often falsely, that people being searched had sex offenses or other crimes on their records. MyLife.com Inc. is accused of deceiving consumers by saying such details could be disclosed only if people bought premium subscriptions.
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Consumers paid millions
U.S. consumers “have paid millions of dollars” to the company for subscriptions, according to the civil lawsuit, filed against the privately held firm and its founder and CEO, Jeffrey Tinsley.
If you search for someone on MyLife.com, it may turn up, at no cost, his or her exact date of birth, associates, city of residence, previous cities of residence and estimated net worth. It's exactly the type of personal information that cybercrooks like to get their mitts on as they zero in on targets, and worrisome in an age when people feel their digital privacy is under attack.
Hundreds of complaints
Even if the subject of a search on MyLife.com had no history of sexual, other criminal or traffic offenses, MyLife.com's website displayed a “teaser background report” that suggested the person “had arrest or criminal records, sexual offenses, potential bankruptcies, liens, or legal judgments,” the lawsuit says. “Hundreds of consumers have complained about Defendants’ business practices,” the complaint says, noting that people were misled about the benefits of a MyLife.com subscription and did not realize they would have to pay upfront for the full length of a subscription.
Subscriptions varied. A one-month subscription for $19.95 gave people one “detailed background report” per month. Annual subscriptions were among others offered.