TODAY   |  March 21, 2013

Has the Internet made privacy unattainable?

A private investigator demonstrates all the personal details he can obtain just from what people post about themselves on the Internet –  from innocuous food preferences and tattoos to Social Security numbers and more. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> online, updating our activities 24/7 on twitter and facebook, doing our banking, the list goes on and on. and all of it can be easily obtained by just about anyone. pretty scary thought. natalie is here with the story.

>> a real eye opener for everyone. we asked a private investigator to help us with a demonstration. and we wanted to see how people would react when confronted with all of their personal information when they least expected it.

>> have you ever done a reading before? i'm getting a name angela.

>> reporter: and he knows everything about this person he's just met.

>> and you like grapes?

>> yes.

>> but not grape soda.

>> no flavored soda.

>> reporter: amazing? yes. is he using unseen and unknown special abilities?

>> i hate them. they freak me out.

>> reporter: far from it. in fact, he's doing something anyone can do. using digital information that could be a gold mine for identity thieves , hackers, or anyone you don't want knowing your personal business .

>> so privacy is dead?

>> privacy is dead, buried. there's a stake through its heart.

>> reporter: we recruited private investigator steven rombom to show us how dead it is. we pulled people off the streets, asked if they would like to meet with someone who might have special powers. then he and a team of fellow investigators quickly dug up the goods, using information from all over the web from social media to online government records.

>> hunter. he's a hunter. has a hunting license .

>> you're a hunter.

>> reporter: and we fed it all to the amazing kavorik, another investigator who was wearing an ear piece.

>> ask her if these numbers mean anything to her.

>> i'm getting some numbers now. 32, 24, 36.

>> wait, 32, 24, 36, i think that's my measurements.

>> reporter: and worked like a charm on 24-year-old brittany .

>> do you have a tattoo of a heart under your wrist?

>> yeah. weird.

>> reporter: it was time to tell brittany he wasn't really psychic.

>> he is a private investigator. most of the info his team found on brittany came from her own twitter account or sites devoted to her burgeoning model career.

>> we only had about 15 minutes to background you and we got everything. we got your mom, your dad, everywhere you lived, your little scary dog there.

>> this kind of stuff freaks me out.

>> 99% of what we got, you put up there, and you can never get it back. it's there forever. it's your permanent record .

>> our next subject, eric, learned that something even scarier was online for the taking.

>> as odd as it is, please tell me if these mean anything to you.

>> yeah.

>> what are they?

>> my social security number .

>> there are plenty of ways legal and otherwise to find someone's social security number online and then once you have it in his words, you own that person, it can unlock everything else about us. the experts always say do not give your social security number away. and, again, another reminder. and also a reminder, you know, be cautious about what you put out there.

>> no question, a little bit scary. you liked that walkee talkie, didn't you?

>> i did.

>> more of natalie's report sunday