Do you remember when we used to have to rely on the phone book to look up a phone number? Remember how much fun it was to play, “Guess what my friend, Jenny Johnson’s dad’s name is” to try to find the number that belonged to the correct Johnson in the book? I used to think it was a huge pain that the only person whose name showed up in the directory was the person who paid the bill, or at least the person who set up the phone account in the first place.
When I was a kid, I thought it totally sucked having to call down the list of Johnsons and bother a bunch of strangers until I figured out which number was Jenny’s (just kidding, I don’t really know anyone named Jenny Johnson.) But these days, I find myself longing for the days when you knew the phone number listed in the book belonged to the person who was paying the bill at that home the last time the phone book was updated.
I recently did a reverse lookup on my own home phone number and was shocked to find that not only does my name come up on whitepages.com, but also my minor children’s names. But that’s not all. No, my ex-husband and ex-mother-in-law, neither of whom have ever lived at my current address or been associated with my current home phone number, are also listed as living at my address. Perhaps this explains why my ex’s debt collectors call my house looking for him on a regular basis and try to hassle me about debts he’s incurred since our divorce.
As if that’s not bad enough, I find it troubling that whitepages.com makes it so easy for the general public to find out where my minor children live. I don’t know where they get their information, but I can guarantee you that I have never given anyone permission to publish this information anywhere, especially not on the internet.
Of course, whitepages.com does offer you the option of deleting your information from their database, and I did delete everyone who was listed as living at my address. But how do I know they won’t just go back and republish this information the next time they update their databases?
It seems the only thing I can do at this point is to regularly Google myself – my name, address, and phone numbers – and my kids, to make sure this information isn’t popping up online again. But it seems unfair to me that I should have to do this.
First of all, it should not be my responsibility to make sure people who do not live with me are not listed as living with me so that I’m not hassled by their creditors. I pay my bills. I have no creditors of my own (unless we count student loans, but like most American’s, I’m choosing to pretend those don’t exist until after I graduate.) Why should I have to put up with being harassed by someone else’s creditors? It’s not my responsibility to make sure my EX-husband pays his bills. He’s my EX. He shouldn’t be my problem anymore.
Furthermore, how does whitepages.com have the right to publish the contact information of my minor children? If you ask me, minors should be off-limits. It’s already far too easy for predators to contact children online, and now you want to publish their home address? Without their parents’ consent? How can this be legal?
Apparently, it is legal, because it happens every day. How many of you knew that you should be Googling your contact information and that of your minor children before I brought it to your attention? Have you been inconvenienced by having incorrect information published about you in online directories like whitepages.com? Please share your comments below.
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