PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Spokeo is one of the best known people search websites, earning multiple industry awards and gaining shout-outs on acclaimed television shows including “Orange Is the New Black” and “Mr. Robot.” Its highest-profile pop-culture exposure arguably comes from MTV’s popular reality show “Catfish,” where the hosts make heavy use of Spokeo in their quest to unmask imposters.
Spokeo’s Company History
Spokeo was founded in 2006 by a group of Stanford grads — including CEO Harrison Tang, CTO Mike Daly and CIO Eric Liang — as a social media aggregator. In those early days social media startups were a dime a dozen, and Spokeo combined posts from all of users’ contacts into a single feed. That original business model proved difficult to monetize, and Facebook’s rise to dominance made it essentially redundant.
When the founders realized that users were willing to pay to look up other users, they pivoted to becoming a people search engine in 2010. Although there were existing, well-entrenched players in the market, Spokeo quickly established itself as one of the best people search sites. Currently the company’s searches pull data from over 14 billion records, aggregated from public records and other publicly available data, to present users with easy-to-read profiles.
A Very Simple Interface
So what is it like to use Spokeo, if you’re new to people search sites?
When you arrive at the Spokeo.com home page, you’ll find a very clean and uncluttered interface. At the top right there are links to the help page and for existing users to log in, and front and center you’ll see a search box.
No matter what piece of information you’re searching with — a name, a street or email address, an online username or a phone number — you can simply type it into the search box. Spokeo’s proprietary search algorithm will recognize the information you’ve entered and will automatically draw from its databases. You can also click links to go to specific search types (phone number, address and so on) but that’s optional.
Search Options on Spokeo
Spokeo’s search results will provide you with as much information as possible on whomever you search, though the exact information will vary depending what type of search you’ve performed. You can also use your search results to prompt or trigger further searches.
Reverse Phone Lookup
Looking up a phone number can tell you who the number is registered to, as well as the owner’s location and address, their phone carrier and whether it’s a personal or business line. Since phone numbers are often treated as usernames by social platforms, your search may also return available social profiles connected to that number.
Lookup by Name
If you have someone’s first and last name, typing that name into the search box will return an initial list organized by location. When you pick the one likeliest to be the person you’re looking for, you’ll see the available results for that individual. Results may include the person’s age and birth month, address, location history, social media profiles and current and former email addresses. Where available, you may also see what they do for a living and the estimated value of any property they own.
Deeper records, such as criminal and vital records (including available marriage records), are available for an additional fee.
Lookup by Street Address
If you want to know who lives at a given address, you can type that into Spokeo’s address search. Search results can reveal the property’s current owner and residents (if they’re not the same person) as well as the size of the house and lot and its year of construction. Results can also tell you the home’s current value and the price it last sold for.
Other pertinent information you may find useful includes former residents and their contact information, the size and value of other homes in the area (for comparison purposes), crime stats for the area and any known sex offenders in the vicinity.
Reverse Email Address Lookup
Spokeo’s reverse email lookup works in much the same way as its telephone lookup. Simply type the email you’ve got into the search bar, and if a match is available, Spokeo will provide you the name of the person or company associated with the email address (it doesn’t work with disposable email addresses, because those are anonymous by design). This search can return available social media or dating site profiles associated with that email address, as well as alternative emails and the other information you’d see with a name lookup search.
Spokeo’s Premium Offerings
Aside from its core people search offerings, Spokeo makes a few premium options available to those who need them. Additional fees may apply. These include:
If the person you’re searching has had encounters with the law, this add-on to the standard search will often reveal them. It searches records from 1,400 courthouses across the U.S. — over 600 million in total — and aggregates information such as a description of the offense, filing date and disposition date, sentencing information and more. Because courts don’t all track and report the same data, the information available may vary from one jurisdiction to another.
Historical search is how you’d view an individual’s “vital statistics”: birth and obituary records, marriage and divorce records, military service records and more.
Spokeo describes its users as breaking down into two main groups: “connectors,” who want to establish contact with someone else; and “protectors,” who want to be certain the people they deal with are legitimate. Spokeo Protect is the company’s identity-theft protection service, and has a corresponding appeal to the latter group.
Subscribers to Spokeo Protect will receive a number of services, depending on their chosen level of protection. All Spokeo Protect levels come with dark web monitoring: Spokeo monitors the shady underworld marketplaces on the so-called dark web where personal information, credit card, and bank account numbers are bought and sold by criminals.
If Spokeo detects illicit activity on your accounts or if your key personal information is offered up for sale online, you’ll receive an alert. You’ll also have 24/7 access to certified resolution specialists who can help you minimize the damage from an identity theft incident and help you through the steps necessary to restore your identity.
A Few Potential Use Cases
If you’re a “connector,” you’ll find several ways to use Spokeo. It can help you track down old classmates, long-lost family members or the person you really enjoyed interacting with on a specific site but only knew through a username. You might connect with an old flame or track down the owner of an item you’ve found. One of the highest-profile ways Spokeo helps connect people is through its “Search Angels,” volunteers who help adoptees find (consenting) birth family members.
Similarly, “protectors” can make extensive use of Spokeo. Finding the real person or company behind phone calls, texts or emails can help you assess whether they’re legitimate. It’s also a useful tool for detecting romance scammers and catfishers, or finding out whether your partner is “playing the field” on multiple dating sites. If you frequent online marketplaces, Spokeo can help you track down underperforming sellers if they won’t answer your calls or texts.
Spokeo can also be a powerful tool for businesses and professionals. Realtors can use it to locate the owners of properties or verify the contact information of prospective leads. Law offices can use it to locate heirs or find parties involved in a lawsuit. First responders can use it to track down the owner or tenant of a property when there’s an emergency or natural disaster. The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.
The Bottom Line on Spokeo
It’s a crowded market, but Spokeo makes a legitimate case for itself as one of the best people search sites. Its combination of public and proprietary data sources gives it a wide reach, and its simplicity and ease of use make it easy for even the least sophisticated users to access all of that available information. Its pricing is competitive and the lack of a long-term commitment — non-Spokeo Protect plans top out at three months — makes it especially appealing.
Modern life is filled with reasons to use people search , whether you’re looking to connect with far-flung acquaintances or simply protect yourself from scammers and spammers. If (or more likely, when) you find yourself in need of those capabilities, Spokeo’s combination of power, convenience and affordability makes it a compelling option.
Disclosure by content creator
This product review was commissioned by Spokeo, Inc. Fred Decker is a paid content provider for Spokeo, and Spokeo compensated him for providing this product review.
Media Contact: Jean Lin, 310-259-4900