Monday, October 01, 2007

FW: You're Pre-Approved!

There's a forward going around--I've gotten it before, but Andrew just got it a few days ago.

Forward: Important Information

Google has implemented a new feature which enables you to type a telephone number into the search bar, 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.

In order to test whether your phone number is mapped, go to: 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, but you may know someone who needs to know this.

Before I give my response to that forward, be aware that this isn't a new Google feature at all--it's been like this for awhile; there are plenty of reverse phone books available for free, anyway; and if your child gives someone your number, it's possible that they might look up your address to stalk you--but they could also just follow your child home. Like most forwards, this is blown way out of proportion and, really, the odds of being stalked by having your child tell their phone number to a stranger are rather slim. In my case, it would be impossible because a) we don't have a land line so our number isn't listed in the phone book and b) Rachel can't even talk yet.

Here's the response that I wrote and am not-so-seriously considering sending out as a forward.

Forward: Important Information

Someone purporting to be in good favor with the National Government has implemented a new program which enables you to look up the telephone number and address of anyone you know the name of, simply by alphabetizing the last names of everyone living in one area. They have been dropping books containing all this information on the doorstep of everyone in my neighborhood, whether they are registered sex offenders, or not! If you open the book you can look up anyone's name and then flip to the maps in the front of the book and you will be able to locate the address of the person's house. Everyone should be aware of this! It's a nationwide telephone book. If a child gives out his/her name, 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 looking myself up in this book and it was there, along with my telephone number and address, leading scandalous people right to my house!

If someone drops one of these books off of your house, and you want to test whether you are in the list, open the book. Flip through until you see the letter of your last name at the top of the page. Scan through the page until you find your last name, then look for your first name.

If you want to BLOCK whoever is doing this from divulging your private information, simply contact your local telephone company and ask for your information to be both unlisted and unpublished. It will be removed from the list by the next time the phone book is published again.

Check your own name 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. In the mean time, if anyone drops off one of these books at your door you can help remedy this problem by throwing the book at whoever dropped it off.


We typically toss our phone books anyway since all the information we want is available online and we don't have anywhere to keep the phone books. Phone books are probably more dangerous because I think the number of four year olds who knows their name far outweighs the number of four year olds who know their phone number. Furthermore, by the time a child can recite their phone number, aren't they pretty well aware of "stranger danger?"

Telephone companies and credit card companies share your information with whoever they wish, anyway. That's why we get personalized junk mail and calls from telemarketers. Just today I got another offer for a credit card. I usually shred these letters without reading them since I don't want another credit card.

Andrew opened the mail today though and must have been avoiding doing his homework since he took the time to actually look at the letter. At the very bottom it says,

"You can choose to stop receiving 'prescreened' offers of credit from this and other companies by calling toll-free 1-888-567-8688...blah, blah, blah."

So he called the number and now we're officially helping the environment by not having credit card companies send us applications we're just going to shred. I wish there was a way to have American Express still send us applications, though. Theirs come with magnets that look like credit cards but say "This is not an actual charge card" on them--we have a collection of them on our fridge. I think they're funny. I like to imagine that someone once tried to swipe a magnet in an ATM somewhere...

And in other banking news, we just invested some of our money in an IRA Mutual Fund this weekend. I'm happy to report that because we did that, the DOW closed at a record high today.

Okay, so that's probably just a correlational factor, not a causational one, since the amount we invested is negligible--considering the amount of money that is already invested in the stock market wouldn't really be affected by our piddly sum. I'd still like to think that it's not entirely coincidental.

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