Have you ever wondered, “What is Spokeo used for?” Like really used for in real life by real people — not just in our promotional materials?
Well so do we, all the time. After all, we can’t get better at what we do unless we know what our users want. So we keep an eye on how our services get used, and periodically we’ll do a survey of users or potential users to help us understand what they’re looking for (and why). According to our current research, here (in no particular order) are some of the top reasons people use Spokeo.
1. Finding Out Who a Phone Number Belongs To
This one is no surprise, because it’s not at all uncommon to receive incoming calls or texts from phone numbers you don’t recognize. At the simplest level, this is just a question of curiosity and common courtesy: if your caller doesn’t leave a voicemail, but turns out to be someone you know, you can return the call.
There’s also an element of self-protection involved. Scam calls, and texts with links to malicious sites, are an all-too-common threat. Using Spokeo’s Reverse Phone Lookup before you call a number back or respond to a text is a simple and practical way to minimize the risk.
Bear in mind that scammers can use technology to falsely make it appear that their call is coming from a legitimate number (this is called “spoofing”), though recent legislation makes that harder. At the end of the day, learning how to recognize common phone scams is your final line of defense.
2. Finding Out Someone’s Phone Number
Spokeo is also popular for those with the opposite problem: having a person they’d like to reach, but no phone number. Again, there are many possible scenarios at play. You might wish to track down an old friend from school days, or a relative you’ve lost touch with or someone whose email address suddenly doesn’t work.
Spokeo can take the information you do have — a name, an email address, or a physical address — and match it, in many cases, to a specific person or at least a reasonably short list of possibilities. Those search results will include a phone number when there’s one publicly available from a legitimate source.
3. Looking Up People They’ve Lost Touch With
Helping people reconnect goes right to the heart of Spokeo’s mission, and part of how we see our role in the community. Our research shows that this is one of the things users really value about Spokeo.
So when people look up their distant relatives, old flames and former classmates or coworkers, what are they interested in finding out? It turns out that marital status is a big one. Searchers are also curious to find social media profiles for their long-lost connections, which provides a convenient way to connect and catch up. Other popular reasons to search include finding out where someone currently lives and where they’re currently working.
These searches lead to some of the most rewarding feedback from our users, from lost loves rediscovering each other (and rekindling the flame) to “Search Angels” helping connect adoptees with their birth families.
4. Protection From Heartbreak
That universal human need for connection has a dark side, because often the people we connect with aren’t quite who we think they are (literally or metaphorically). For a lot of Spokeo’s users, our people search tools provide a way to avoid being hurt emotionally, financially or physically.
Online dating is an important way people of all ages connect in the modern world, so making sure that charming stranger is real and not “catfishing” is a top reason to search. Marital status is another big one, for similar reasons: if you’re looking for a serious commitment, you won’t want to start with somebody who’s playing fast and loose in their current relationship. Another reason we heard in our surveys was checking whether the other person has a criminal record. That’s a big red flag for potential romance scams, or — in a worst-case scenario — dates or relationships with a violence-prone partner.
Some of the same concerns apply when you’re already in a relationship. Users turn to Spokeo to help find out whether their partner is playing the field through dating (or hookup app!) profiles, or is already actively cheating. Whether you set your mind at ease or learn a bitter truth, knowing is better than wondering.
5. Protection From Fraud, Scammers and Identity Theft
It’s a sad truth of human nature that wherever people gather to socialize, make purchases or get things done, someone will find a way to exploit it for their own ill-gotten gain. Modern life takes place largely online, and Spokeo provides the tools you need to protect that online life.
Some of this overlaps with other categories, of course: a romance scam is still a scam, it’s just a particularly cruel one. Similarly, doing a reverse search on an unknown email address or phone number — before clicking any links, or calling back — can help you avoid many common scams.
Identity theft is arguably the most dangerous threat that Spokeo can protect you against. Scammers can trick you into participating in the scam, but identity theft happens (and thrives) when you don’t even know it’s going on. The most proactive way to protect yourself is with Spokeo Identity Theft Protection, which is coming soon.
What’s Your Reason?
Bringing light to the often-opaque workings of the digital world is what Spokeo is all about. You need to be able to trust the people and organizations you interact with online and in real life, and our tools can help you do that.
Every one of our users has a unique and personal set of reasons for using our services, some that may be listed here and others that may not. What’s your reason? Do you have a great Spokeo story? Reach out to us and let us know.