If you're listed, someone can find you in the phone book or within seconds. But you can find a phone number, and address and much more online. My name (Sharon Maines) for instance comes up in more than 20,000 records on google.com. But now there's a website that condenses all that information with one simple search.
"It concerns me a lot because people can just randomly pick someone and get your address and know you have small children that play outside," says Kristen Ross. Ross, a mother of three is concerned because she has an unlisted number. But that didn't stop us from finding her birthday, address, directions and a satellite image straight to her house.
It's called zabasearch.com. Zaba meaning free in Greek, free search. And this is what we found for free. We looked up all 84 NewsChannel 11 employees and only 12 were not listed on Zaba Search.
Larry Manale is a detective in the property crimes division of the Lubbock Police Department. He says, "A lot of people are concerned about their information being made public and that's a legitimate concern." Even Manale was surprised to find people with unlisted numbers on Zaba Search. But he says, everything on the site is public information.
We tried to contact Zaba Search but only found this explanation on the website. "Zaba Search does not gather or generate information. Zaba Search quickly accesses public information and displays what is available in the public domain."
So where does this information come from? Surprisingly it comes from you, anytime you change your address with the US post office, buy a new house or do county or state business. Other times it comes from companies that sell information so it's best to be careful who you're giving your information to.
Detective Manale says, "The key thing is did you contact them or are they contacting you?" The more information made available, the easier it is for someone to steal your identity. Detective Manale says, "With the rest of the country, identity theft is increasing here in Lubbock as well."
We did find some discrepancies with the information posted on Zaba Search. Some of the addresses and phone numbers listed for the people we had were not current. In some cases, people had five or more address. The site also offers a background check for a fee.
It's virtually impossible to remove all of your personal information from the Internet but you can take it off Zaba Search. You'll have to make a request in writing.
Write Zaba Tools, P.O. Box 45210, Omaha, NE 68145. Requests are typically processed the next business day after receiving the request. Include the following information in your request.
Zaba Tools also allows you to create a record if you want to be listed or create a link.
You can help limit the amount of personal information that is made available. Here are a few ways to do that.