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Be careful about ZoomInfo and MyLife

I recently received an invitation to connect to a friend on MyLife.com. I’ve gotten these before, and I always politely refuse them, since I focus my social network connections on LinkedIn and Facebook.

My friend wrote back to say that he hadn’t sent me that invitation – but wait, this is only the start of the story…

It turns out – if this Wikipedia article is correct – that ZoomInfo feeds contact info on business-related signups to their associate MyLife. In itself, that’s a slimy thing to do, but it doesn’t end there.

If you sign up at MyLife, they are going to ask you if you’d like to upload your contacts to them to try to find other friends. If you do, they will start spamming your contacts without even asking your permission. Here’s a quote from an article in the Los Angeles Times (Reunion.com is now MyLife.com):

West L.A. resident Elaine Schmidt experienced Reunion.com’s aggressive marketing for herself when she received an e-mail the other day that appeared to be from a longtime acquaintance.

It said: “Hi, I looked for you on Reunion.com, the largest people search service — but you weren’t there.” The e-mail instructed her to click on a link to see who else has been searching for her.

Curious to see if her acquaintance had left a message, Schmidt, 44, clicked on the link and found herself at Reunion.com’s site, where she was prompted to register so she could see who’d been searching for her.

As part of the process, she submitted her name, gender, e-mail address, birth date and ZIP Code.

Then Schmidt came to a page saying that “we’ll find your friends and family who are already members and also automatically invite any nonmembers to join (it’s free!).” It instructed her to enter the password for her Yahoo e-mail account.

“I thought I was just signing up to read my friend’s message,” Schmidt said. “At no time did I think I was authorizing them to access my online address book.”

Within minutes, though, she started getting e-mails from friends and colleagues asking why she was searching for them on Reunion.com.

I recommend ZoomInfo in my presentations, and I’ll continue to do that – simply because they have information on about 50 million people, and the site is still used by many headhunters. And also because the info they have is often wrong. So it’s important for you to go there and claim your identity (search for yourself, and when you get the results hit the “that’s me” button).

Here’s a link to a page on ZoomInfo that explains how they get their information and how you can request that they remove your listing – but I think it’s better to correct your information than to de-list yourself.

But beware! Don’t go near MyLife.com.

And let me give you a general suggestion: you should never upload your contacts to any site. You may have seen this option in LinkedIn and similar sites – but I really don’t recommend that you use these services for the simple reason that you lose control of your data that way. It’s always better to enter your connections one at a time. MyLife is not the only site that uses this slimy practice – Plaxo was once well known for doing the same thing.

Also please beware: if you get a request from MyLife, you may want to think carefully before joining. If you get an email that looks like it comes from somebody you know – saying that they tried to find you somewhere but couldn’t – email them privately and ask if they really sent that invitation. This will be better for you, and it will help alert your friends that they are inadvertently spamming you.

Posted in Job seekers, LinkedIn, Personal branding.

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13 Responses

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  1. Eileen Smith says

    Thank you for this Walt. I also get a lot of Reunion.com messages and wondered where they were coming from. I treat them as spam.

  2. allyn mcgillicuddy says

    walt, thx 4 the warning!

  3. Caroline Hazen says

    I had joined Reunion a few years ago and found one or two people. When it changed to MyLife I noticed I had “connections” with people I never invited nor had ever heard of. Thanks for the warning about not up loading contacts (I’ve never done it but will definitely pass along this information to contacts).

  4. Trica Hoekwater says

    Thanks so much for this information. You are the best!

  5. Susan Walls says

    Walt, thanks for the information. I don’t believe I have had an issue to date – I have my information on both ZoomInfo and Reunion.com. I don’t upload my directory to ANY sites. Just don’t want to take the chance that any are unscrupulous. Hopefully I will remain issue-free in this regard.

    Susan Walls
    http://www.linkedin.com/susanwalls

  6. JP McDermott says

    Thanks, Walt – great advice as usual!

  7. Allan McKibben says

    I found myself in the My Life circle.

    They sent me an e-mail that a “friend” of mine had been found and that I could contact her by joining. The had her last city of residence and age and name correct.

    I was tempted to pursue the issue and e-mailed My Life, but got no response.

    My “friend” passed away four years ago.

  8. antje wilsch says

    yes, and please note that MyLife recently changed their name to disassociate themselves from Reunion.com but it’s the same company. They are NOT our company, StoryOfMyLife.com although we get emails mis-associating us with them and asking to be removed or complaining. Story of My Life is about collecting stories from individuals to be part of the world’s largest encyclopedia of life stories. We do not spam, do not charge subscription fees, do not search people and are in no way associated with them.

  9. Alexander von Gimbut says

    At the front of the info-line Walt – as always! Thanks for keeping us up-to-date.

    • Walter Feigenson says

      Aha!! Just remember that the front of the line for one person is the back of the line for another!

  10. carol says

    almost all social networking sites will give you the option to automatically scour your email account for “friends”. I have read somewhere to never, ever let these sites find your friends for you since it is not safe and yes, they do spam.

    I think there has been a similar situation with bookmarking sites although I am not yet fully informed of this.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Be careful about ZoomInfo and MyLife | Brand-Yourself.com Blog linked to this post on July 31, 2009

    [...] For the original article check it out here at Wally’s Follies [...]