False Advertising
5/1/2008
Don't fall for fake surname genealogy books.
Psst … over here! Want to buy a book with everything you ever wanted to know about your family tree? Scam artists' efforts to sell unsuspecting people bogus family yearbooks and surname books are reminiscent of the street peddlers who sell Rolex knockoffs out of suitcases.

You might encounter an “opportunity” to buy such a book at a mall kiosk, in a letter, online or by e-mail (often from someone claiming to have researched your family or even be a relative). According to the marketing, if you send some money, you'll get valuable genealogical information, including a history of your family in America, a list of family members, a coat of arms, recipes, photos and more.

Don't bite. All these books actually offer is general information about a surname, generic photos and coats of arms, and telephone book listings of people with your name, whether or not they're related to you.