Monday, October 6, 2014
Kids Live Safe: Oh look, another get-rich-off-sex-offenders scam!
It seems they've also been responsible for the email spam alerts that have been popping up with regularity as of late.
Making money off sex offender information
by Garrett Bergquist
Posted: 10.05.2014 at 7:50 PM
NEW BLOOMFIELD -- How much money would you pay to know if any sex offenders live in your area?
Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Kids Live Safe charges its subscribers $29.97 per month, or $59.88 per year, to tell them where registered sex offenders live in relation to their houses, schools or other places they frequent. Users can set up email alerts for up to four addresses, install filters to monitor their children's online activity, and create profiles of their children to give to law enforcement if their children ever disappear.
Here's the catch: The sex offender information Kids Live Safe provides at cost can be accessed for free through the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website.
Detective Tom O'Sullivan, of the Boone County Sheriff's Department, said state and federal law require anyone who commits a sex crime to register as a sex offender. The registry includes a description of the person and their vehicle, where they live and work and what crime they committed. Missouri law requires the Highway Patrol to make such information available through its website at no cost.
Kids Live Safe representatives turned down multiple requests to speak on the record for this story. A company representative reached by phone said the subscription pays for tools government-run online databases cannot provide, such as the email alerts and filtering software.
O'Sullivan said charging money for publicly available information is not illegal.
"If it's available for free, you ought to try and explore that avenue before paying some money," he said.
Kids Live Safe has a B+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited by that institution since September 2011. BBB records show 28 complaints have been filed against the company in the last 3 years. Complaint details on the BBB's website showed complaintants wanted to stop emails from the company or had billing issues.
Columbia residents Alex Holloway and Michael Lilien said they saw no point in paying for information they could access for free even if the fee brought additional services.
"If somebody's a sicko, you need to know," Holloway said.
Lilien, who has two young girls, said he checks the area around his address on the Highway Patrol's website every few months.
"I would be willing to spend quite a bit if it wasn't something I would be able to get from a free site or to go on some sort of government website," Lilien said.
In Your Corner: Suspicious email, no AMBER Alert
POSTED 10:05 PM, OCTOBER 15, 2013, BY SCOTT HINES, UPDATED AT 10:14PM, OCTOBER 15, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – The In Your Corner team recently received word of a suspicious email circulating around the metro.
It has the words “Amber Alert” in the subject head and claims “…sex offender activity has been detected in your area.”
Gene Thaxton and the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety issue AMBER alerts in our state.
Email from Kids Live Safe
We alerted them to the email creating the stir.
Thaxton said, “Nothing that Oklahoma, that I would issue, is going to look that way.”
The link takes you to a website for a company called Kids Live Safe.
They claim to protect families from registered sex offenders and offers a number of web-based services, including a sex offender monitoring service.
You sign up for a trial run, then the company charges your credit card on a monthly basis.
Our complaints though aren’t with the product, but the way it’s being advertised.
A Kids Live Safe spokesperson sent us this statement:
Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention and providing us with a copy of the email. As our attorney explained, Kids Live Safe contracts with 3rd party marketing organizations to distribute its marketing messages. Kids Live Safe has never authorized anyone to send emails as an “Amber Alert”, to use the phrase “Amber Alert” or to imply any connection to a government entity. We are diligently investigating this issue and as soon as we identify the marketing organization responsible for this we will take appropriate action to ensure this does not happen again. Please tell your viewers that if they receive any further messages like this to please forward to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know through the “contact us” form on our website.
The Kids Live Safe Team
Here’s the In Your Corner bottom line.
As of now, the state will never notify you of an AMBER alert by email or text.
To verify an AMBER alert, check with law enforcement or a media outlet.
DPS will also post an alert on its website.
Keep this in mind. You can always access the national and state sex offender registries for free.