Who has your number?

Information about law enforcement officers readily available online

The Internet is a double edge sword for law enforcement officials.  Public records and commercial information has long been used as an investigatory tool by police officers.  But, in the past you had to ferret out the information.  Trips to court, county hall of records or to the "backwards book" would give you access to a suspect's personal information.  Now, that information is readily available online.  Except, so is information about police officers.

ZABA is a website that acts as a portal to public and commercial databases.  By combing the power of the Internet and relational databases ZABA has made a tremendous amount of information freely available.  Indeed, the word ZABA is from the Greek word, "tzaba", meaning "free" or "at no cost."  A free search will likely provide your home address, telephone number and possibly your date of birth.  And, for a small fee someone can obtain extensive information about you.

Click here to find yourself on ZABA (www.zabasearch.com)

After you visit the site and found out how much information is available about you and your family, come back and look at several steps you can take to limit the amount of information floating on the net about you.

  1. Open a post office box.  Have as much of your mail as possible directed to the post office box.  Be sure you have credit card statements, utility bills and magazine subscriptions come to the box.  This is probably the most effective and least expensive long term solution.
  2. An unlisted number isn't an unknown number.  It is simply not in directory assistance or in the telephone book.  It can be obtained.  And, most of the time, you give it out.  Especially when you fill out applications, etc.  Get a new unlisted number for your home.  Obtain caller identification technology and only give the number out to friends and relatives.  Consider using a cellular telephone number, with the bill going to your post office box, as a means of controlling
    the number of people and organizations who have your telephone number.
  3. Do not fill out any form, for any company or organization that does not have a privacy policy.  Make sure that they will not sell your information.  If they do not have such a policy in place, do business with another firm.
  4. You can try to file a written request with information providers, asking that your information be kept private or deleted from their database.  Some will comply, many will not.
  5. Start a family trust and conduct your business through that trust.  If you are in a position to do so, you might also consider a corporation or DBA as a means to control the flow of your personal information.
  6. Buy a shredder.  Shred all credit card, mortgage reduction, charity solicitation and any mail that has your personal information on it.

Of course, bookmark ZABA.  Its not going away and is an excellent resource for conducting investigations!

About the author

Lt. Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA is the author of Police Technology (Prentice Hall); the co-author of Leadership: Texas Hold 'em Style (Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press); and From NYPD to LAPD: An Introduction to Policing (Prentice Hall).

Raymond's current major project is co-authoring the upcoming book, "Homeland Security and the New Threats of Global Terrorism: From Cold War to Flaming-Hot War (Prentice Hall, February 2007)" with Major General Dror Itzhaki, Israeli Security Agency (ret), a senior Israeli expert on security, protection, operations and prevention of criminal and terror acts and Dr. Reuven Paz, Ph.D., an Israeli expert on militant and radical Islam and Islamist movements. Additionally, his is in contract negotiations on a third book - An Introduction to Policing. You can view Lieutenant Foster's Complete CV Here.

Raymond can be reached on the Criminal Justice Forum or at raymond@hitechcj.com.

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