Can TrueRep really protect your online reputation?

Yet another reputation management service strives to help you get a handle on how you look on the Web. But Intelius's TrueRep is a work in progress at best.

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What is your online reputation? Just how good or bad do you look to the world of random Internet strangers? These are questions worth asking, and they’ll only grow in importance as we “connect” with more and more people whom we’ll never actually meet.

Beyond Googling yourself obsessively – which gets at some of the info available about you online, but hardly all of it – what can you do? Recently I wrote about Reppler, a service that gauges the shadows cast by your social media activities. Now it’s TrueRep’s turn on the hot seat.

TrueRep is a service from data broker giant Intelius – a leading provider of online background searches for employers and landlords. Its purpose is to show you how you look to these folks, based largely on information in the public record, so you can hopefully change things to enhance your reputation. (Or, if you’re a cynic like me, the purpose is to get you to pony up for the same data Intelius is selling to your boss.)

There are two versions of TrueRep: free and premium. Both versions require you to have a Facebook account to verify your identity. The free version assigns you a “Reputation Score,” though it fails to explain what that number means. You can view a list of your last known addresses, the tax values of your home, and some information about your neighbors.

It also allows you to suppress one phone number and two addresses from Intelius databases, so people using the company’s background search products won’t be able to find your current coordinates. The reason? Safety from stalkers, abusive spouses, and others who might do you harm, says Jim Adler, chief privacy officer for Intelius.

(However, suppressing information on Intelius does not expunge that data from the public record. People can still find you using another public records vendor – or by visiting the county courthouse where the records are kept. If you’re a victim of stalking or abuse you may be able to get the state to remove your address information from public records, depending on where you live. See the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for more details.)

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