I regularly google myself. It is not merely an exercise in ego, it is also a paranoiac’s standard defensive manoeuvre.
One of the reasons I write this blog under a nondescript pseudonym is that I have never found anyone else with the same name as me. To illustrate: If you google John Smith, you get approximately 261,000,000 results representing who knows how many different John Smiths. If you google my name, you get 12 results and they are all me.
Work has been a little quiet today so I googled myself. And there it was – a use of my name without my knowledge, without my permission, and advertising my services at an insultingly cheap price.
The website in question bills itself as the largest database of foreign language instructors in the Czech Republic. They must have got my name from the trade licence register because it is the only place they would have found me listed as a teacher. I only reactivated my teaching trade licence because it should have been easier than getting a completely new trade licence (although in the end it probably wasn’t), and everyone knows that Max and bureaucracy don’t really mix.
So this website included me in their listings, and made up an email address – Max@fakedatabase.cz – so that someone looking for an English teacher could contact me directly through their website. I don’t know why – perhaps they are planning on collecting unsuspecting language students for themselves, or perhaps they just want to collect email addresses, or perhaps they have a more sinister kind of fraud in mind. But obviously they are not planning on passing any information on to me – they probably don’t even know who I am or where to find me.
Well, actually, they do know where to find me now. I have already emailed them from my work email, where the signature line specifies that I work in a law firm, and I have demanded that they immediately remove my name from their database. They haven’t done it yet, but it’s only been a little over an hour.
And as I have been writing this post, I have realised that I need to report fakedatabase.cz to the authorities (as much as I hate authorities). They may be using other people’s names fraudulently as well and we could all suffer consequences. What a bunch of dickheads.