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Googling Phone Numbers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jaws, May 8, 2007.

  1. Jaws


    Mar 27, 2007
    Columbia, MD
    (This is true.)

    Subject: Googling Phone Numbers

    Telephone Number Search

    Google has implemented a new feature which enables you to type a telephone number into the search bar and hit enter and you will be given the person's name and address. If you then hit MapQuest, you will get a map to the person's house. Everyone should be aware of this! It's a nationwide reverse telephone book.

    If a child gives out his/her phone number, someone can now look it up to find out where he/she lives. The safety issues are obvious, and alarming.

    Note that you can have your phone number removed or blocked. I tried my number and it came up along with the mapquest and directions straight to our house. I did fill out the removal form for myself, and encourage all of you to do the same. Quite scary.

    Please look up your own number.

    In order to test whether your phone number is mapped, go to: Google
    ( http://www.google.com/ ) Type your phone number in the search bar (i.e. 555-555-1212) and hit enter. If you want to B L O C K Google from divulging your private information, simply click on your telephone number and then click on the Removal Form. Removal takes 48-hours.

    Check your own number and although this may not apply to you if you have an unlisted number or cell phone as primary contact, you may know someone who needs to know this.
  2. Logan

    Logan Guest

    thats a really stupid thing on googles part IMHO...
  3. Didn't work for my number.
  4. This is an old urban legend and far from "new." One major clue is that reference to Mapquest. Nowadays Google has its own Google Maps service.

    From http://www.snopes.com:
    Google PhoneBook
    Claim: Entering a phone number into the Google search engine can produce a home address and a map with directions to that address.

    Status: True.

    Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

    Beware the New Google Feature!


    Type your home telephone number into Google's search bar & click the search button . . . MapQuest returns with a physical location of your phone number.

    People could use this feature to locate your home address, and receive explicit directions on how to get there from anywhere in the country.

    You can remove your name off this database

    To do this: Type in your full phone number — using dashes — like this: 555-123-4567.

    If your number appears in the mapping database, an icon resembling a telephone will appear to left of the entry on the results page.

    Click on this icon and it will take you to a page containing a description of the service, and a link to request your number be removed!

    Recheck your phone # to be sure it has been removed. Also, if you have children, please check their phone # too!

    This is another example of invasion of privacy, isn't it?

    Origins: The gist of the message quoted above is true: Typing a phone number into the popular Google search engine can produce a display like the following:
    Here we entered a phone number (805-495-9897) and were presented with a display showing the name and address of the person to whom that number is assigned, as well as two links (Yahoo! Maps and Mapquest) which will produce maps and driving directions for that address. (The information we used for our display belongs to a friend who has since moved to another state, so we're not giving away anyone's valid personal information here.) Clicking on the telephone icon will take the user to an informational page about the Google Phonebook feature, which includes a link to a form one can use to request that his personal information be removed from this feature.

    As to the issue of whether this Google feature is a shocking "invasion of privacy," there are a few points to keep in mind:
    This feature is not "new" — the PhoneBook service has been offered by Google for several years now.
    This feature does not work for every phone number. Some classes of phone numbers, such as unpublished phone numbers (i.e., numbers belonging to customers who have requested that their local phone service providers not publish their numbers in printed phone directories or make them available through directory assistance), will not display.
    The information displayed is compiled from a number of publicly accessible sources and is not unique to Google. There are many other web sources through which users can look up the same information.
    Google has simply combined two different services readily available on a number of different web sites: reverse phone directory look-ups and mapping/driving directions services. Even without Google, it's a simple feat for any moderately knowledgeable web user to plug a phone number into a reverse phone directory web site to find the name and address corresponding to that number, then use an on-line service such as Mapquest to obtain directions to that address.
    In short, the Google PhoneBook feature may be troubling to those who value their privacy, but it's a symptom and not a cause. The larger issue is that many entities we deal with in daily life who are privy to our personal information can make that information available to sources that compile databases which services such as Google PhoneBook use. The public has been making privacy gains through the implementation of laws such as those requiring credit bureaus, phone companies, and motor vehicle bureaus to offer "opt-out" features which provide customers with means to restrict the distribution of their personal information, but until that larger issue is completely eliminated, trying to keep one's personal information off the web is akin to engaging in a perpetual game of "Wack-a-Mole": it provides momentary satisfaction but otherwise accomplishes little.

    Last updated: 21 February 2005

    The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/google.asp

    Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2007
    by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
    This material may not be reproduced without permission.
  5. HappyFish


    Oct 19, 2006
    Yup, The farm was up in less than one second, cool. And for any white trash trying to use it the wrong way the Smith is loaded and the house is boobey traped, have fun!.... I went back and put in my cell # but it drew a blank on that.
  6. HSNewman


    Aug 17, 2006
    Just googled my number and found it to work, that is, I got my name, address and a map. I sent them the opt out form. This also works on MSN Live Search but could not find a way to opt out. This is annoying - maybe even scary
  7. nancyr


    Feb 14, 2006
    La Jolla, CA
    Only got my Seattle phone #/address from 3-5 years ago. No cell, no current or previous San Diego #. Got my mom in Vegas, but with no address and generic ZIP code. She's been there 10 years with 2 addresses.

    We've got 3 vicious cats here (well, 2, plus one needy attention slut), and don't mess with my brother at Mom's. :biggrin:
  8. thorin


    Feb 10, 2007
    Did not work for my number
  9. Well it worked for mine....

    Thank you, I've requested it to be removed.
  10. Well for an urban lengend it worked suprisingly well and fast. I had a map to my house in seconds.
  11. Er, haven't most of us been in the phone book all along?

    I am not, however. Nor can you reverse look up who I am based on my number. Sad thing is I have to pay extra to not be. And that was only to reduce the number of people I have to upset when they call to sell something.
  12. Mine works, but only shows my city and zip code. The map takes you within a few miles of me but not to my house. I guess I will leave it alone for now.
  13. Good post, Connie. I've been using reverse lookup and mapquest to do the same thing long before Google offered the service. Removing your information from Google doesn't make it less accesible, it just makes it a little bit slower to retrieve.
  14. Returned my Name and adress and map to my house
  15. There are many old ways around this, besides paying for an unlisted number.

    The first is, if you want the equivalent of an unlisted number, without the cost, just list your phone under a ficticious name. The easiest way is to just change the first letter of your last name. If you scan your local phone diractory, you will probably come up with numerous listings under the names of cartoon or other fictional characters. I have a cousin whose phone number is listed under the name of her dog.

    If you do not want to be totally unlisted, but do not want someone to be able to track your address from Google or a reverse directory, the telephone company will list you, without extra charge, without your street address. I have my phone number listed in that fashion.
  16. The "whack a mole" comment is aptly applied. This phenomenon is a sign of our times. The advent of widespread computing and mapping of the earth makes this sort of information integration unavoidable. There are countless sources of names and addresses in numerous, legal, public records from municipal to national. It doesn't take much effort to make the connection and glean unintended information from that. You can't make new laws which grandfather former public information sources and make them illegal.

    I think there is a blurring of the terms privacy and anonymity which has evolved from the internet. What is being called "privacy" on internet sites and communications is often in reality a quest for anonymity. There is no (US) constitutional right to anonymity, that I am aware of.

    For example, if someone makes an accusastion against me in a legal situation I have a right to face my accusers (yes, I know there are isolated cases involving organized crime..which prove the rule). Yet there are folks who "lose it" when someone even mentions their real name at web sites...as if something forbidden has been released. Still..here at the cafe we respect peoples' desire for anonymity and will try our best to address any issues raised about it.

    I real life anonymity, except fot the extremely wealty or those persistent enough to pursue it, is not a feasible objective. Eventually every square foot of the surface of the earth will be mapped; furthermore citizens in every country in the world have to, at one time or another, give their name and address for some reasonable, legal purpose. The fact that it is possible, with varying ease, to integrate these databases and find out information to serve some other purpose doesn't mean every legitimate, useful information base has to be drastically modified or government agencies be created to monitor its use.. As I said erlier, it's like whack a mole; how far does organized society have to go and at what expense? Wouldn't the money used for such purposes be better spent on the poor?

    In the end there will have to be compromises on both sides of the argument. It impossible to achieve "anonymity" in this day and age if one wants to live in organized society.

  17. Trying to achieve anonimity is much like putting a lock on a door. The lock will not stop the persistent and accomplished thief; however, it will make it more difficult for him, and, thus, be a deterrent. I guess the old saying about locks being their to stop basically honest people from doing something stupid would apply.

    It is up to each of us to decide what level of anonimity makes us feel comfortable. Like the lock, there are many situations in which I would feel quite comfortable without the use of locks. However, there are other times when leaving my home, office, car, etc, unlocked would be foolish.

    As an example, I have a job in which I have been instructed to take such steps as to never put my name on the return address of an envelope, to have an unlisted telephone number, to never allow photos of my children to be published, etc. I have been instructed on what to do when I hear gun shots. I have had an occasion when I have recieved telephone calls from the police, telling me to get my family out of my house, because they believed that a man who had just shot and killed two people was heading to my home. I have had times when I had to keep my children inside, and have police security. However, I do not like to live with too many restrictions on my life. I do not have the unlisted phone number. I have allowed several publishings of my childrens' photos in newspapers; and, in fact I have posted their photos on the internet. Others may feel that living a more private (or they may think more secure) life is necessary. We all have different situations; and, all much decide for ourselves, what level of privacy makes us feel comfortable. Though I think that many people have gone totally overboard in their search for anonimity, not knowing their particular situations, I just try to respect their personal wishes on such matters.
  18. Nothing wrong there. Your experiences are...exciting. :eek:  In the main we do what we can. My pet peeve is the internet personality who uses a pseudonym, doesn't indicate even the country where he/she resides and then spews out hatred, sarcasm and insults at anyone who dares ask too simple a question, or hasn 't exhausted the search mechanism first and is villified for that.

    I tried, for a year, to use the rec.travel.europe usenet to learn about intended destinations. What I found there were(are?) several hate-filled people who must have much too much time on their hands. They did exactly what I described above. Yet, with the pseudonyms clung to their "anonymity." I even used the ignore command, but they alienated so many people that what was left were so few useful posts as to make the effort futile. I self-coined a term "keyboard courage." So, for me the clamor for internet "privacy/anonymity" is a bell with a crack. It is too often abused and used as a shield to do more harm than good.

    That's why I refer so often to civility and respect here at the Cafe. This is basically a nice place filled with many nice people. When we see abusive conduct or have it called to our attention by members we respond quickly. We do not tolerate much aggressive conduct which I believe is the reason so many return.

    All the best, Rich
  19. SteveK


    Mar 16, 2005
    Well, I'm glad Matt didn't try to follow the address listed for us in Homer! It has me on a road several miles from my house; curious really because my only listed address is either a PO Box number or a road that was never built. My phone number in the Alaska Range doesn't show up at all.

    I still have problems with people who don't like a PO Box number as my address. When asked for a physical address, I can give a lat/long, or a mile marker on the highway.
  20. I have known about this for a while. Tried my parents old # in Florida (havent lived there for about 5 years) According to google they still live there and still have that phone number. Doesnt work at all for Canada.
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