Family Watch Dog bills itself as a National Sex Offender Registry. Very official sounding. Family Watch Dog says on its description that it’s a “free tool allowing the public to keep their family informed and aware of different dangers in their area”.
Sounds good, I have a young daughter. So I took a look.
Familywatchdog.us is the address. Even to a net savvy surfer like myself, having the ‘.us’ at the end hints at the site perhaps being related to the US government. I know better – anyone can register a .us domain – but with the ‘National Sex Offender Registry’ in its title, well, that’s where my brain went.
It quickly became clear when I got to the site that this is no government site. Immediately my computer started getting funky and my ‘pop ups are being blocked’ alert from my computer’s security software activated.
So I closed that out and went to my other computer, which has minimal ‘pop ups’ protection, just to see what happens. Sure enough, a full screen pop up (actually, pop-under) immediately launched itself unto my computer. I got rid of that and took a look through the site.
Let’s see. First there’s a fake cursor blinking in an advertisement. I’m not falling for that one. Then there’s the blinking ads, and a flash pop up ad, and a variety of other safety related links, but there to the left side is the ‘find offender’ form. Entered my info and clicked ‘search’ And there, after another five seconds of ads, and surround by ads, is a Google maps program with little square dots where the bad guy sex offenders are apparently lurking in my neighborhood.
Overall, not a bad service – really! I’m not against ads in general, we have ads here at Sure-Start.com of course. But the scammy feel of the site and the somewhat misleading ‘National Sex Registry’ with the .us domain name, plus the online articles here and there talking about how ‘amazing’ this service is… it’s all a bit much and left me feeling a bit ‘dirty’ myself.
The real Department of Justice National Sex Offender Registry is at: http://www.nsopw.gov/ You can use it, without all the pop ups and blinking ads, to look up sex offenders by name, address, or neighborhood. As a father, I can tell you, the info there is scary enough without all the blinking ads.