Category Archives: General

3 Big Stories You Should Be Following

 

Here are a few big news stories we noticed from the past few days that are likely to stay in the headlines throughout the week:

  1. Celebrity photo scandal continues 

    Kim Kardashian. Phot credit: Eva Rinaldi

    Kim Kardashian. Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi 

The celebrity photo scandal involving the renegade site 4chan

continued to take twists and turns this weekend as more nude photos from Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens and Hope Solo emerged across the internet. Like the previous series of leaked photos it’s alleged the hackers breached the celebrities iCloud accounts through guessing passwords and back-up security questions.

Our advice: Now is a great time to revisit your security settings on any cloud storage devices such as iCloud, Dopbox or Amazon Cloud. While making sure you set strong passwords, we question whether it ever makes sense to hold extremely sensitive photos of yourself in the cloud or on your devices.

Further reading: Don’t Let Your Naked Selfies Reach These 3 People

  1. Apple introduces default encryption  

Coincidentally or not, after the celebrity iCloud scandal,                   Apple has been rolling out a number of new security features over the past couple of weeks. Apple has now introduced default encryption for iOS8, which means even the company itself will not be able to access data on your devices. Interestingly, Apple went a step further in its announcement, noting that “unlike competitors,” it will not try to monetize its users data. Many in the media interpret this as a swipe at Google, which also announced it will encrypt data by default.

The lines outside Apple stores were long everywhere this weekend.

The lines outside Apple stores were long everywhere this weekend. Photo credit: Joe Nicholl

Further reading: Is Google Hiding Something From You?

  1.  iPhone 6 sales break records

Apple continues to dominate headlines with the announcement that it sold over 10 million of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus since Friday. What’s even more impressive, as this Forbes article points out, is that the new phone models are not yet on sale in the world’s largest smartphone market, China, until early 2015.

Further reading: 6 Things to Like About the iPhone 6 Announcement

What news stories did you find interesting this week? Let us know in the comments.

The Million Dollar Parking Spot

 

The New York Times recently reported that 10 New York City private parking spots will be come with a price tag of $1 million each.

This is shocking to us, even as New Yorkers who are used to paying an arm, a leg, and then another arm for pretty much everything. While the Huffington Post, among others, picked up on the fact that this sort of extravagance which caters to the ultra-wealthy highlights the huge gap between the rich and poor both here in New York and beyond, another issue came to mind for us: peace of mind.

Some parking spaces in NYC are selling for $1 million.

Some parking spaces in NYC are selling for $1 million. Photo credit: Jeffrey Zeldman

Let us explain. For those not familiar with parking in NYC, it’s a pretty terrible experience. Searching for street parking has been known to lead to insanity among drivers and even for the lucky ones able to snag a spot, you’re leaving your car open to all the travails of a rough, unpredictable, urban environment. Scratches, broken side-view mirrors, thefts and of course, parking tickets, are all too common.

Parking garages offer some shelter but still leave you at the mercy of hurried attendants who will pack your car vertically three or four rows high. And did we mention the fees?

The rare parking spots that come with apartments here are routinely rented out by their owners to help subsidize substantial portions of the actual rent. The whole situation is enough to make you crazy. Perhaps this is why even ex-Mayor Bloomberg would ride the Subway for his commute some days.

So someone selling a million dollar parking spot is selling a lot more than the extra space and convenience. They are selling peace of mind. Peace of mind that the car will be protected, always accessible and always vacant for its owner.

At BeenVerified, we think everyone should have access to peace of mind and not just the extremely rich. That’s been a large part of our mission since day one. We build and organize data assets that used to be part of a closed system, available only to a privileged few, and make that information accessible to everyone. Our pricing structure makes multiple searches affordable so you never have to question if it’s worth the money to run a background check, for whichever purpose you need it for.

Whether you’re seeking information on a pesky phone number, an owner of an address or a new person in your life, you can use our background check for your own peace of mind.

And we definitely suggest you take the train when you come to New York.

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for peace of mind? Let us know in the comments.

6 Things to Like About the iPhone 6 Announcement

 

As developers of an iPhone app we watched Apple’s launch event yesterday with anticipation. We found at least six things to like or at least find interesting, and none of them have to do with Bono.

New iPhone models.

New iPhone models.Photo credit: Miguel Angel Aranda

  1. Many of the cool new features have to do with the announcement of Apple Pay. Using a technology called Near Field Communication (NFC) your iPhone can double as a digital wallet featuring one touch checkout. Unlike other versions, this one has the backing of all major card providers so it has a chance of seeing mainstream adoption.
  1. Apple Pay also encrypts your card data so merchants won’t have access to your card information anymore. Apple says even if a store you shop at gets hacked you won’t need to cancel the card used from its wallet.
  1. The iPhone 6 plus display is their best yet, at 1080p HD.
  1. Ditto the camera, with new features including an advanced pixel sensor and lens, and a new feature called “burst selfie” mode.
  1. Improved battery life. Especially important for all that late night Tinder activity.
  1. Not too expensive. The cost is in line with traditional iPhone pricing.

Will you be upgrading to an iPhone 6? Let us know which of the features most excite you in the comments.

Who is Your Teen Discovering on Tinder?

 

Last week we shared our thoughts about the potential pitfalls of Tinder, the app that has taken taking the online dating world by storm over the past couple of years. One aspect we didn’t discuss was Tinder’s fast growing population of underage users.

Who is your teen swiping right with?

Who is your teen swiping right with?  Photo credit: Shinichi Higashi

Tinder’s founder, Justin Mateen, disclosed this stat himself earlier this year: over 7% of Tinder’s users are aged 13-17.

As we mentioned in our previous post, one of the game-changing features of Tinder and similar online dating apps is the mandatory use of GPS location services that come built-in with smartphones to connect users in a similar geographic area. With Tinder, that service can put matches within a mile of one another.

While many parenting blogs have since blown the whistle on the inappropriateness of underage kids using Tinder, some calling it “the worst app ever for teens,” Tinder’s founder has since provided some clarity on his original statement suggesting the safeguards that both Tinder and Facebook, which the app uses to authenticate its users, prevents adults and underage users from interacting, as well as unwanted contact between users.

As many sources have noted however, it is extremely easy to create either a fake or secondary Facebook account. In fact, many Tinder users create secondary Facebook accounts entirely for the purpose of trawling Tinder, or to maintain their own privacy and safety.

While the prospect of your 13 year-old using Tinder may terrify you, keep in mind many, if not most Tinder users treat the app as a game rather than a serious dating or hook up site. Tinder itself calls the app a “social discovery” tool. While many of the parenting blogs that raised the red flag on underage Tinder use suggested blocking the app from their teen’s phone, which in many cases may be justified, it won’t prevent them from using the next app that could compromise their safety.

Instead, consider employing these tactics to keep your kids aware of risks:

1. Teach your kids about the importance of their privacy and the internet. They should know which of their phone’s apps use location services like GPS and how to effectively manage privacy settings on social media platforms. If you don’t know these things, then it’s time for you to get educated, too.

2. Learn about the new people in your kids’ lives. It’s not an immediate red flag for your teenager to have a friend over the age of 18, but if you get a funny feeling, consider running a background check and talking it over with your teen.

3. Keep the lines of communication open. The worst thing that can happen is alienating your child and losing the ability to easily keep tabs on their activities, online and off.

Four Ways to Protect Mom and Dad From Scammers

 

We have looked at at the explosive growth of online dating scams this week, but there is another group of people that con men have a long history of preying upon, as this recent story noting the rise of “The Grandparents Scam” illustrates.

Look after him with these tips. Photo credit: Dietmar Temps under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepblue66/

Look after him with these tips. Photo credit: Dietmar Temps under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepblue66/

The reality is that a certain group of con artists focus their efforts on the elderly.  The elderly can make excellent marks for many reasons.  First, many elderly people have significant financial resources and do not have the same obligations that younger people may have, such as a mortgage, car payment, college savings, or saving for retirement.  This gives many of the elderly access to cash.

Second, the elderly can often be lonely and desire attention and affection.  As spouses and friends begin to die, the daily contacts that elderly people have established over a lifetime begin to slip away.  Children, grandchildren, and other relatives may try to fill those voids but be unable to do so because of other commitments in their own work, and families of their own.  This can leave the elderly looking for companionship.

Third, while impaired judgment is not an inevitable part of aging, it is a common occurrence as people age.  The combination of loneliness, confusion, and access to cash makes elderly people perfect targets for predators.

What can you do to help make sure that con artists are not preying upon your elderly relatives?

1. Make time for your relatives.

Even if you cannot be there, physically, make sure and maintain your relationship with regular phone calls.  Ask about what is happening in their lives and take an interest in any new connections that they make.

2. Encourage your relatives to do what they can to establish and maintain current connections.

If that is no longer possible in their physical location, a move closer to family or to a senior community where they will have ready access to social groups might merit further investigation.

3. Be honest in your assessment of an elderly relative’s judgment capabilities.

No one wants to deprive an elderly relative of the freedom of being in charge of their own finances or other decisions, but it is far worse to ignore developing problems for too long and find out that dementia has led to an elderly relative making disastrous personal choices that leave them dependent upon others for financial care.

4. Be proactive.

If you have any suspicions about a new person in your elderly relative’s life, you can run a background check through a service like BeenVerified. While not all con artists will have a red flag in their background check such as a criminal record for fraud, a background check does more than let you know about a criminal record. It can also tell you if the person has been honest with the information he or she has shared with your relatives.

Any significant lies are red flags that may merit further investigation or intervention by you.

 

10 Reasons You Might Enjoy Working at BeenVerified

 

BeenVerified is hiring. Check out our open positions here.

Here are ten reasons to consider joining our team:

A look at our office.

A look at our office.

  1. We are working with and improving upon some of the most complex data assets in the world.
  2. We have a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere where everyone is part of the family.
  3. Our kitchen is full of fresh fruits and vegetables that we use to make homemade juices (last week it was Berries & Carrot).
  4. Our NYC office is super-convenient to just about every major subway line.
  5. We have weekly meditation sessions.
  6. You can work from home when you don’t want to go out in the rain.
  7. You’ll be in an environment designed for optimum developer happiness and can build your own set-up
  8. We have a casual dress code.
  9. We have great health benefits for full-time employees.
  10. You’ll be part of a team that is disrupting the stodgy old world of public records and making it easy for consumers to find the important information they need.

We had to cut out the eleventh reason because it’s so cool, we don’t want competitors to steal the idea. Send us a message if you want to know what it is.

Check out our jobs page for more information on what it’s like to work at BeenVerified or read our interview with Product Manager, Tony Aly, for more insights on life at BeenVerified.

Three Reasons to Keep a Background Check App Handy This Weekend

 

One of the best things about the weekend is escaping the office and not being chained to your desktop computer. We enjoy getting out and about too, but also appreciate the ability to access important information on the fly.

Take BeenVerified with you this weekend.

Take BeenVerified with you this weekend.

This need is a large part of why at BeenVerified, we spend a lot of time on making our products flow effortlessly in a mobile environment, whether you have an iPhone, iPad, Android or other mobile device. As TopTenReviews.com recently noted, we make it easy and cost-effective for you to search a person’s public record, a phone number or a property from the convenience of your smartphone.

But will you really need to run a background check this weekend while you’re soaking up the last rays of summer at a backyard barbecue?

We can’t say for sure, but here are three possible scenarios to consider:

  1. A fun night out

Going out with a group of friends to a bar can be a great way to meet potential dates. If you hit it off with someone, or conversely, if someone gives you the “creepy” vibe, having the convenience to look up their public record, review their social media presence and confirm their lack of a criminal record may give you the peace of mind needed to give them your number to set up a date.

  1. Your kid asks to sleep over at a new friend’s house

Your son or daughter may have recently met a new friend whom you have had little interaction with, and absolutely none with their parents. If you are uncomfortable with allowing your child in a new person’s home and don’t have the opportunity to meet with the parents, peace of mind can be a background check away.

  1. Last minute beach trip 

    Make sure it's real before you pay the money. Photo by Jason Jones: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjay69/

    Make sure it’s real before you pay the money. Photo by Jason Jones: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjay69/

BeenVerified offers a property search feature that is perfect for verifying homeowner information and avoiding the many scams that proliferate on Craigslist and other sites that specialize in vacation rentals. You can also use it in conjunction with a people search when transacting on AirBnb.

These are just a few of the many reasons you could need to run a background check this weekend, or even multiple background checks.

This is why BeenVerified has worked hard to not only provide customers with mobile access but also affordable searches.

We never want you to have to ask yourself if it’s worth the money to run a background check.

Have you used a background check for any of the above reasons? Let us know in the comments.

 

Guest Post: Why BeenVerified Made TopTenReviews.com

TopTenReviews logo

Note: This post was contributed by TopTenReviews.com

In March 2014, TopTenReviews.com rated BeenVerified 8.98 out of 10 in its annual Background Check Services Review. TopTenReviews’s verdict was that BeenVerified “offers accurate background information quickly about relatives, potential dates, and other individuals.”

The quickness with which one can access information about an online
acquaintance, out-of-touch friend, or even one’s own background earned BeenVerified the TopTenReviews Bronze award for the Background Check Services category.

Extensive Searches

BeenVerified is an affordable background check service that aggregates public records information, including address history, phone number history, marriage records, divorce records, property records, and more. BeenVerified also provides criminal background history for both misdemeanors and felonies, including but not limited to sex offenses, arrest dates, fines, and more.

The TopTenReviews staff found BeenVerified to be one of the most accurate services for discovering and listing relatives of the person being searched. They were also impressed by how thorough BeenVerified was when providing address history. BeenVerified also employs court runners who, for an additional fee, will go to retrieve a copy of a specific court document in person if you are unable to pick it up yourself. This service is particularly useful when one is searching for clarification on a court case that was tried in another state.

Accurate Information

The TopTenReviews staff was also pleased with the accuracy and quality of the information provided by BeenVerified. In their test searches, they were able to locate the correct individual in the provided search results. These test searches for known persons were very accurate, listing the correct age, family members, known aliases, and more. All background check information is carefully presented in order make each source clear and understandable.

Ease of Use

BeenVerified offers a clean and easy-to-navigate website, as well as generous preview reports to help verify that the report is for the correct individual. These preview reports are important because BeenVerified offers a la carte background checks in addition to a monthly subscription. The preview provides enough information that consumers will not need to weigh whether the report will be worth the expense. The TopTenReviews staff was also impressed by the logical, easy-to-understand presentation of information, which saves time by eliminating the need to further sort the information provided in the report. These reports are not simply raw aggregate data dumps.

Excellent Customer Service

TopTenReviews lists BeenVerified as offering among the very best customer service of the background check services they reviewed. BeenVerified boasts a customer support staff based in New York City and Miami, Florida. The TopTenReviews staff found it quick and easy to get a customer service representative on the phone who was able to answer any question they had about the service, which was a rare occurrence among the other services they tested. BeenVerified offers an equally helpful live chat feature, FAQs, and other documentation to complement its stellar phone customer service.

Conclusion

BeenVerified offers extensive background checks culled from public records, presented in a logical, easy-to-understand report. The service combines these reports with an easy-to-navigate interface and industry-leading customer service. BeenVerified focuses on fair business practices by providing generous preview reports before charging customers for the full collection of available information.

Read the entire TopTenReview.com article and ranking here.

Why Couldn’t I Find Who I Wanted on BeenVerified?

 

BeenVerified offers a robust background check service, but sometimes a search will come up empty.  There are a few different reasons that this could occur.  Some of the reasons are due to innocuous explanations, such as the person not establishing a public record or the material not being digitized.  In other cases, the lack of a public record may serve as its own red flag that, perhaps, the person is not who he or she appears to be.

Is the person you are looking for using an alias?

Is the person you are looking for using an alias? Photo credit: rachel a.k. used under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimonomania/

First, is the person you’re trying to find an adult?  Public records are generally going to be in the name of a homeowner, the person responsible for paying the bills, etc.  If a person is a minor or a young adult who is still financially dependent upon parents, then it is entirely possible that his or her information is not going to be part of the public record.

Even older adults may avoid having their information become public if they live with roommates, have utilities in other names, and use disposable phone services.  For younger people, the fact that they aren’t in the public record isn’t really a red flag; in many ways, it is to be expected.

However, for older people, a total lack of a public record can serve as its own red flag, especially if your introduction to that person came later in life.  While not impossible, it is somewhat rare for someone to entirely avoid having some information in the public record.

The next question to ask is whether the person is who they claim to be.  One reason that BeenVerified may be unable to locate the person that you’re seeking is that the person does not exist.  The person may be using an alias.

In other instances, the explanation may be far less nefarious.  The person may be shaving a few years off of a birthdate in order to appear younger or using a nickname.  If so, then a search using the known information may not return any results.  Expanding search parameters may help you find the information that you’re seeking.  Using BeenVerified’s People Search function with expanded possibilities for first name or date of birth might even help you narrow down the missing person.

Sometimes, you know the person’s identity is accurate, and you even know that there is some public information available about them, but it did not show up in a Background Check.  The easiest explanation for these omissions is that a BeenVerified Background Check is going to focus on material that has been digitized.  If it has not been digitized, then it’s not going to show up on a standard background check.

However, if you need access to documents that have not been digitized, BeenVerified offers a service that most on-line background check companies do not; real, live court-runners.  These court-runners can held down to courthouses or country clerk offices to search for records in person, giving you access to documents that have not yet been digitized, without requiring you to go to a courthouse in person.

Remember, if you ever have trouble finding what you’re looking for we are here to help.

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The Key to Repelling Unwanted Phone Calls

 

When so many of us rely upon our cell phones not just for calls, but for internet access, cameras, and entertainment, getting persistent calls from unknown numbers can feel more like an orchestrated invasion rather than just a mere nuisance.

We all hate receiving unwanted phone calls. Photo by Alon: http://www.flickr.com/people/photoloni/

We all hate receiving unwanted phone calls. Photo by Alon: http://www.flickr.com/people/photoloni/

This is especially true if you answer the call and find out that it’s someone you do not want to talk to: sales calls, someone trying to pull a phone scam, a crazy ex or a stalker, or even a bill collector.

By providing you with the name of the number’s owner, BeenVerified’s reverse phone lookup service can help you identify who is trying to reach you.  Once you know who is calling, you can decide if you want to talk to them.

Hate to get sales phone calls?  We do and we try to avoid them, but sometimes it seems like some companies just ignore the Do Not Call Registry.  What may be the most challenging part of a sales call is that many of us have been raised to be polite, rather than assertive, and many telemarketers are taught to take advantage of those good manners.  Knowing a phone call is a sales call can help you avoid sales calls in two ways: first, you can choose not to answer the call; second, you can contact the company and inform them that you are on the Do Not Call Registry and ask them not to call you.

Another type of phone call that can be more than a nuisance is the scam phone call.  There are a wide variety of scam phone calls, but they all basically involve trying to get financial information or money from you.

Five of the most frequent types of scam phone calls are: charities, legal, lotteries or sweepstakes, work from home, and false banking alerts.  Charity scams are calls where people represent themselves as legitimate charities seeking contributions, but the callers are either not linked to the charity they reference or the charity is a fraudulent one.  Legal scams threaten civil or criminal legal action unless you take certain steps.  Lottery scams say that you have won something, but ask for financial information to secure your winnings.  Work from home scams offer to provide training or job opportunities so that someone can work from home, but without any actual attached job.  Finally, false banking alerts suggest that one of your accounts has had fraudulent activity and asks for identifying financial information to remedy the problem.

Almost all of us have dealt with unwanted personal phone calls.  Many of us have probably experienced the ex who calls from different numbers in an effort to communicate.  Others of us have probably had strangers call from multiple numbers as well, in a persistent stalking pattern.  Using BeenVerified’s Reverse Phone Lookup  to identify who owns a number can not only help you decide whether to answer a call, but can also be an important way to help build up a record of stalking or harassment.

The final category of unwanted calls is debt collections.  There are some pretty basic rules outlining what type of behavior is legal for debt collectors, but many of us who have fallen behind in our obligations have experienced behavior from debt collectors that steps well outside of those legal boundaries.  Using BeenVerified’s Reverse Phone Lookup service may help you identify how to contact debt collectors to direct them to contact you in writing, rather than on the phone.

If you receive persistent calls from unknown numbers, get the information you need today.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section.