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Genealogy Website Shows Public Records, Catches Locals Attention

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“When I clicked on it I was shocked,” says Amanda Sutherland. 

A website getting widespread attention on social media.

It’s also catching the eye of local police.

Family tree lets anyone search their database of public records.

That means names, date of birth, relatives and even addresses.

And police say they worry it may begin causing problems in many communities.

9 and 10’s Megan Atwood and photojournalist John Harrington tell us why there is concern about the site and how you can protect your information.

“It’s a little bit disconcerting,” says Richard Dietrick.

It’s the first thing that came to mind when Richard Dietrick typed in his name on family tree, finding a database of personal records.

A one stop shop, gaining attention and concern.

Richard goes on, “I knew that you could look yourself up on the internet but I didn’t realize that you could find everybody that you’re related to.”

With just one click, addresses past and present sit at your fingertips.

Undersheriff Rick Doehring for the Wexford County Sheriff’s Department insists its information that could easily fall into the wrong hands.

“Certain individuals may want to use this type of information to maybe seek some type of revenge or contact families,” says Undersheriff Doehring.

The site lists specifically that all information is public record. And while you can’t delete public records, there is another option.

If you’d like to remove yourself from the site it’s as easy as clicking contact us, then click the “opt out page” and fill out your information.

The website told us it would take two days for the page to come down.

“This is a click of a button and there’s all that information and they may act hastily,” says Amanda Sutherland.

Counselor Amanda Sutherland, at OASIS Women’s Shelter in Cadillac calls the internet a double edged sword and worries about domestic violence situations.

“In some cases the guys are really incredibly jealous and might see oh, you were with this person. And this is where you lived. And it’s just an incredible violation of privacy,” Sutherland goes on to say.

“I think I understand that there’s no place to hide anymore with the technology that’s available,” says Richard Dietrick.