Genealogy Scams and Red Flags
With the growing popularity of genealogy and family history, it is easy to find hundreds of internet sites dedicated to the subject; from sites claiming to have huge databases to others that promise to contain information relevant and specific to your family tree, surname or coat of arms.
Beginning Genealogists should be aware that not every genealogy site is as good as the claims they make.
While a great deal of family tree sites are trustworthy, newcomers to genealogy can sometimes fall prey to less reputable sites that exist to take your money and offer you zero results or results you could have found for free. Additionally family tree research novices should beware of “genealogy sites” that exist for the sole intention of gathering your personal information for the purpose of email marketing or worse…identity theft.
Before you enter your details for any family tree site, research the site to see what they are claiming to offer.
A reputable genealogy site will:
- List exactly the information, records and databases you can access once you have signed up
- State the locations and periods for which records are available
- State the source of the records or information they hold
Top Three Genealogy Site Red Flags:
#1. A site that makes generalized claims such as “Largest Genealogy Database”, “Millions of Names Free”, “Your Family Story” or simpler claims to “marriage or birth records” without any detail provided…should be avoided.
#2. Your “Free Search” results are ambiguous. For example, a search return that says they have found X-number of results on the name you entered without details. A good test of this kind of result is to type in a nonsense name such as Harry I. Balls or Jemima Pancakes to see how many results you get.
#3. A site that only provides an online contact form and does not list contact information such as a telephone number or address is not a good bet. A site without customer service is an absolute no go.
Although there are no 100%, fail-safes as these sites tend to come and go rather quickly. Following the above mentioned simple precautions may help you spot Red flags and make adding those names to your family template a safe and enjoyable experience.