Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Do U P O B?

As we have worked to secure permanent housing I have been amazed at what information is available with just an address.

Maybe it was just a pretty house you saw driving one day and were curious what homes in that neighborhood cost. Maybe it was a particular house that you were interested in buying and wanted to know what the property taxes would be. Maybe you weren't even looking for a house to buy.

You can find out all sorts of information about a property with just an address:

  • When it last sold
  • How much it sold for
  • What the property taxes are
  • What it looks like outside and sometimes inside too
  • What schools children in that household likely attend, and if it is any good
  • How well kept the neighborhood is
  • Aerial views, street views
These are all valuable tools when you are looking to purchase or rent a property. I especially relied on Google maps for our last two rentals. In one I was able to tell from the Google images that the house was right behind a large overhead transformer and the front of the house faced a brick wall on the other side of the street. It saved me from having to drive over and find out. 

But all of this got me thinking about MY address. Anyone that we give our address to will have access to all of this information and more if they also know our name. Not everyone will be nosey enough to look for details about our purchase or attempt to see pictures, but some will. 

I've done it! We received a Christmas card this last year from some friends in another state who recently moved into a new house. I was curious where it was because we have other friends in the same city. I could have called and asked if they knew so and so if we were close friends, but we are just Christmas card friends who catch up one a year. Instead I turned to the Internet and plugged their address in. Turns out the city was bigger than I thought and they aren't close enough to know each other. But then curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on the pictures. I have never been invited into their home, and yet I knew what it looked like..... or may have looked like when they bought it.

What an invasion of privacy I had committed. But the information was right there and I was curious. That is how it always starts. I enjoy having access to public records just as much as the next person except when they are my public records. The thought of someone knowing what we paid for a house, where it is located, and what it looks like is a little creepy. Not to mention making me a little paranoid should someone want to do our family harm. 

I just searched the house we sold two years ago and there for the world to see is all of that information and pictures of our stuff in it. Not to mention the glaring reminder that we sold for less than we bought it. 

A Post Office Box would provide some barrier, but going to the post office every day to check the mail could be a real pain.

Do you use a PO Box? Why? Am I being paranoid? Don't answer that last one.

Medical Mondays is right around the corner, quite literally. Monday May 5th - just a few short days away. Join Emma and me with your tales of Medicine from any angle you observe it.



  1. I never used a PO box.I don't really care if people Google map me. I think all my stalkers have moved on in life. I think the people who actually look you up mean no harm (like you! hehehe). The harmful stalkers will find you no matter what. ;)

  2. It IS super scary! Unfortunately (or fortunately?) when we went to buy our first house recently there were no pictures online because it was a private sale/never listed when they bought it. We are buying it from the current owners now with it never having been on the market as well, so I'm glad now there are no pictures floating around! I'm totally guilty of doing the street view thing- especially when we get invited to fancy parties at other attending's homes!

  3. I worked for many years as an agent for a major insurance company. One of our sales tactics was to use tax records to find info on homes of our customers so that we could offer them a reasonably accurate quote for homeowners insurance without them having to answer a lot of tedious questions. I'm really good at internet snooping!

  4. It is scary to find out just how much information is public. There are some public websites where with just a name, you can find out a person's address, who lives in the residence, their ages, who their neighbors are (name,age, persons in the house), etc. I try to find these sites and get my info off of the website. However, so much of our personal information is sold to these sites that once you 'fix' one, another one gets that information. So much for anonymity in this day and age.


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