Avoid Bogus Surname Histories

Avoid Bogus Surname Histories

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. Signs of a scam You...

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.

Signs of a scam

You might encounter an “opportunity” to buy such as book at a mall kiosk, in a letter, online or by e-mail (often from someone claiming to have researched your family and 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.

Bad reputations

In 2005, the state of Colorado sued a business called Morphcorp for defrauding consumers with its family books. The suit alleged deceptive advertising, including the perpetrator’s claims he shared the last name of each consumer who received the offer. As it turns out, much of the books’ content was the same for every family, including “family recipes” and “family pictures.”

Other members of the rogue’s gallery include A World Book of , published by the Halberts of Ohio in the late 1990s, and A History of Your Distinguished Surname. None of the books contained a lick of actual genealogy specific to a particular family. To avoid falling for such scams, research a book before deciding to buy and be suspicious of a company that says its product is about your individual family.

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