You also get copious opportunities to purchase more info about yourself and your neighbors from Intelius. Last year the company was fined $1.3 million by the state of Washington for deceptive post-transaction marketing, after it automatically signed customers up for services without adequately informing them they’d be charged $10 to $20 a month. I did not see anything like that with TrueRep.
For $10 a month (or $85 a year) the premium version of TrueRep gives you all that plus an “enhanced” Reputation Score that indicates how much information is available about you online. You get access to your criminal records, civil judgments, and any professional associations you might belong to. And you get some “brand management” tools that hook into social networks and let you create a personal Web page that people searching for you will find before they encounter the nasty stuff. That’s the idea, anyway.
What I really wanted to know was, why did I only get a 73?
The True Rep score depends on a lot of factors, including your age, says Adler. If you’re 25 and have minimal financial history, that won’t negatively impact your score. If you’re 50 and you’ve never bought a home or been issued a credit card, that’s a red flag and will lower your score. For example, one of the reasons my score is lower than it could be is because I’ve got a traffic ticket pending. (Forgot to register the damned car – again.) Over time, he says, Intelius hopes to fold more info about online activities into the Rep Score and be a little more transparent about how that number is calculated.
I’m not exactly sold on TrueRep. The Reputation Score seems arbitrary, and the pay version doesn’t give you much more than the free one does. If you’ve got a criminal record – and you aren’t already aware of that fact – you’ve got bigger problems.
Here’s a metaphor that explains how I feel about public records vendors like Intelius.
Say you have a fresh water well on your land. The water is all the data available about you in the public record. Though the water is technically yours, other people can also drink from the well, and you still have to pump it out yourself when you get thirsty. Companies like Intelius take the water, bottle it, and sell it back to you at a profit.