Too much info? Family tree website has plethora of personal data - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Too much info? Family tree website has plethora of personal data

A website that provides a wealth of personal information received different reactions from Grand Strand residents. (Source: WMBF News) A website that provides a wealth of personal information received different reactions from Grand Strand residents. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A website that reveals a lot of personal information is being seen as convenient for some, and potentially unethical for others.

Users who type in their name to FamilyTreeNow.com will find their full name, age, date of birth, current and former addresses, and a number of family members and other associates.

The site differs depending on the person. Some found dozens of relatives, while others could not find themselves at all.

“It’s got my parents' name and birth year," said Dean Lata. "It’s all public I guess, nothing too scary.” 

Zach Biggin had a different reaction when trying out the website, noting a person could find out the name of her younger sister and where she lives.

“If someone doesn’t like me and they have my name, they can find out where I live,” Biggin said.

The website is free to anyone and does not ask for consent before posting information.

LouAnn Timmons, a professor of information technology at Horry Georgetown Technical College, said after a close look, the website is completely legal and everything appears to be pulled from public record.

Still, the website could be considered unethical depending on who is asked.

Myrtle Beach Police Lt. Joey Crosby said sites like these can be dangerous, as it makes it easy for criminals to find personal information.

“It’s very alarming whenever you run your name and you see all of that identifying information because it’s putting you at risk of potential exposure and your information being used as someone else's identity," Crosby said. "That’s why you have to take precaution. Just like you protect your home or your car, you have to protect your identity.” .

The website does allow individuals to opt out of being included, but that request can take up to 48 hours to be processed and all information removed. You can go to the "Privacy" section at the bottom of the main page and go to the "Opt out" section to follow instructions on how to be taken off the site.

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All rights reserved. 

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