On Your Side Alert: Fake online profiles

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A viewer discovered false information about her on a website she says she never used or signed up for.

The site in question is MyLife.com. It claims to be "America's number one people search" site.

For Laura Ashley Floyd, it all started with a Google search of her name. She wasn't ready for what she discovered.

"It was very disturbing, I felt violated by it," she told us.

Laura says she stumbled on a profile claiming to be her on MyLife.com. The problem is she didn't create the profile and the information wasn't true. Laura says the false information didn't just stop with her, she says she found fake profiles for friends and family members.

"Grandparents who have been deceased for over a decade," Laura said.

MyLife.com wasn't the only site, Laura tells us she found incorrect information about herself on similar sites.

"There were maybe four or five website that did speak to me and actually agreed to remove these profiles," she explained.

We wanted to know how this could happen. We checked with University of Law Professor, James Gibson.

"MyLife.com is a little bit Facebook, a little bit E-Harmony and a little bit of a data aggregator, that grabs information about you from across the internet and it puts together a profile that you can use for dating purposes or general social media purposes," Gibson said.

Professor Gibson says if you notice a site like this with incorrect information about you, act quickly.

"I think your first best bet is to contact the website itself and object to it, because whether there is a legal obligation or not, websites that want customers and want a good reputation in the community, are going to be responsive to consumer complaints like that," Gibson explained.

We knew that Laura was not alone. We wanted to know if any laws were being broken, our legal expert, Steve Benjamin weighed in on the topic.

"It is not a crime to lie on the computer. We know this from problems associated with dating sites," Benjamin said.

He says the only way something like a fake profile would be illegal in Virginia is if the person was using your identity to commit a crime -- or used your image for advertising purposes without your permission.

"It becomes a crime to the extent that they are trying to get something in return," said Benjamin.

We did reach out to Mylife.com and the company released this statement: "MyLife has been in business for 11 years and is proud to help people find and connect with friends, family, colleagues and loved ones. More than 230 million people can currently be found using MyLife, and more than 60 million people currently use MyLife to find others and access their social media and email communications, all in one place so they don't miss anything important.

We discourage people from creating any fake profiles - it goes against our mission of helping people find others and stay connected with all the people that matter. When someone finds a record they don't want listed, we make it easy for them to either claim a record and delete, or call customer care to have their information edited or removed without any cost. We get very few requests for profile removal as most people want to be found by old friends, former colleagues, people that might want to hire them, or others. With regard to the past lawsuit, as mentioned in another article from a while back, we believe the lawsuit was without merit, and was dismissed quite a while ago."

"It's very creepy. I think people should have some kind of legal protection," Laura said.

Her message, if you haven't, do a Google search on your name. To limit what's on the web about you, consumer advocates advise, closing any old accounts you are not using and limit personal information like date of birth and home address.

Helpful Virginia statutes : http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+8.01-40


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