Q: I searched for and found myself using ZabaSearch, however some of what I found was outdated or inaccurate. How will others who may be searching for me find me if you don't provide the right information about me?
A: Information found using ZabaSearch comes from a broad variety of public record sources. As such, searching for persons with numerous change of address records may turn up multiple address, phone and other data. Also, most of this information was entered by people, and they are known to make clerical and typographical errors.
Q: Can you correct my information?
A: Because ZabaSearch does not maintain a database of persons, it is not possible to change the information it finds from various public records sources. Nor can ZabaSearch remove persons or information it finds because ZabaSearch has no control to add, modify or delete public information owned, operated and/or maintained by those sources.
Q: But it's through ZabaSearch that I and others find the information. Can't you just stop it?
A: No more than Google can stop the search results it turns up when people use it to find things. That’s because ZabaSearch does not maintain a database of personal information.
Q: But that sounds next to impossible, to trace every possible source that may have information about me, past and present.
A: Frankly, it practically is next to impossible to remove oneself from every public records database.
Q: How do I block my information from being seen on ZabaSearch?
A: ZabaSearch is powered by Intelius. The quickest and simplest way to have your information removed from our database is to send us a request via our online Opt-Out form. Be sure to include your email address so that we can notify you both when your request is received and when we've completed your opt-out.
Q: I work in law enforcement, or the judicial system, or the correctional system, or am an elected official, or have a sensitive government job. How do I block my information from being seen?
A: ZabaSearch respects and is sensitive to individuals whose jobs can be affected by public record or publicly available information being seen by others, and have been blocking this information since its inception when requested. Please see the block records section of our web site for more information.
Q: How did so much information about me get out there in the first place?
A: All information found using ZabaSearch comes from public records databases. That means information collected by the government, such as court records, country records, state records, such as the kind of information that becomes public when you buy a new house or file a change-of-address form with the United States Postal Service. More often than not, it’s individuals themselves who put their own information into the public domain, without realizing they are doing so.
Q: What are some of the most common way my information is thrust into the public domain?
||The most common ways information gets into the public domain is through your phone company. Unless you specifically ask to be unlisted, your phone number and address will be in the directory assistance database. Once you are in the directory assistance database, and then call and take your name out, and make your number unlisted, in many cases, it is too late, as the original listing will have been distributed.
||In most local counties, any property transaction, whether it is a sale or purchase of property, will result in a public record of that transaction. Please note, that in many cases these records contain names, addresses, maiden names, and unlisted phone numbers.
||Voter registration records are publicly available information in states where available. Voter registration provides the most recent address information as it is also used by many courts to issue jury duty notices.
||Filling out any sweepstakes cards or entry forms to win a car, vacation, or any item or service will result in your information being distributed to a variety of marketing companies, and thus this information will be made publicly available.
Q: How come I’m only hearing about this now?
A: People surprised by what they find out about themselves when they stumble upon ZabaSearch are only now realizing the reality of the personal information business in the U.S. – it is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry. But the truth is your data has been out there for years. It’s just a question of who has access to it – you, or the people selling your information to other companies in order to market things to you?
Q: How far back in time do the public records databases maintain the information they hold?
A: It varies. An address entered into a particular database ten years ago might belong to a person living at the address for the last twenty years. On average, we estimate most search results were entered into initial databases in the last ten years.
Q: I saw on ZabaSearch founder Nick Matzorkis’s site that many people have been happily reunited thanks to this kind of service. But what about people who don’t want to be found by others? Women of domestic violence, for instance, or victims of stalkers?
A: This is a critical concern, and it presents a difficult challenge. That’s because the solution to the challenge involves more than simply removing one’s info from one particular database. And while some states, including Massachusetts, enforce the change or removal of a person’s information, opting out of every single database doesn’t fix the problem. Simply put, the data replicates too quickly in the information industry, and trying to remove every trace of personal information is like trying to plug hundreds of thousands of holes in a leaking dam. The only way to prevent oneself from being found by others is to go to the core: the state and public information level. People under threat are advised to seek help from their state’s courts.
Q: What if I’m not under threat but want to protect myself anyway?
A: In general, states that offer the Address Confidentiality Program – which entitles you to a P.O. box or non-identifiable address for all state and legal documents – require evidence of a viable threat in order to participate. Even if granted you must still seek court assistance to mask information when you do things like buy a home, get a drivers license, or register to vote.
Q: Doesn’t the information someone finds about me make it easy for someone to steal my identity?
A: No more than someone can steal the identities with the addresses and phone numbers of more than 80 million people listed in the White Pages.
Q: But I can choose to unlist myself from the White Pages, whereas I can’t unlist myself from ZabaSearch.
A: Correct, because ZabaSearch doesn’t maintain a database from which we can remove you; the information ZabaSearch displays is gathered from various public records databases, all of which are beyond our control.
Q: Unlike the phone book, ZabaSearch shows more than just my address and phone number; it also shows birth year.
A: True, but even with that information a person could not walk into a car dealership and state a name, address and birth year, then walk out with a car in someone else’s name.
Q: Then how does identity theft occur, if not with that kind of information?
A: By and large, ID theft occurs because of security breaches and the malicious activities of criminally minded hackers, and not because of simple public information like name, address, and birth year. Consider how freely we give up our credit cards in restaurants or at the gas pump, where employees can access that information if they choose. Even when online breaches lead to ID theft, it isn’t because a group of hackers are sitting in a room and trying to guess credit card numbers based on public information found on ZabaSearch or other public records searches.
Q: I see ZabaSearch also offers extended searches for a price, to conduct background or criminal record checks, that sort of thing. Don’t those services go beyond ZabaSearch’s free search service in a way that’s an invasion of privacy?
A: No, because we are a search engine and not a public records broker. The additional, fee-based searches you see on ZabaSearch are not conducted by us, but rather those companies those optional search links take you to. For another perspective, please click here.
Q: What about stories that state ZabaSearch makes it easy to invade the privacy of others?
A: ZabaSearch has received extensive media coverage, and is unfortunately the target of privacy related activists and news outlets which frequently misrepresent the company by stating ZabaSearch maintains a database of citizen public records. To reiterate: Information found using ZabaSearch is all available elsewhere on the web and is all public information. Just as Google has become the way we search for all kinds of general information – none of which is owned or maintained by Google – ZabaSearch represents the evolutionary next step in delivering to a free, easy to uses service for locating and reuniting with long lost friends, family members and loved ones.