The Truth About Genealogy Leads (aka Downline Reports)

Many people don’t know that I used to be the owner of a website that no longer exists – genealogyleads.com. I only used to sell downline reports and genealogy. In fact, I was the #1 seller of genealogy reports. I was second to none.

What is a genealogy lead? A genealogy lead comes from a report, some people call them downline reports. These reports are lists of names of people who are already in an existing MLM company, or one that has gone out of business.

They have been around for decades, but were made famous about 12-15 years ago by a guy named Tracy Biller. He put together trainings on recruiting other network marketers into your company. Sounds great. Everyone would like to recruit other networkers into their company… wow… wouldn’t that be great!

In the opening paragraph I said “I used to be the owner” of that company. I closed up shop and shut it down. I’ve never, ever looked back. Why?

Four things changed my position on why genealogy leads are bad news and why you need to stay away from them.

1) The Do Not Call List changed everything. Back in 2005 or so when the U.S. government came up with this new law, it changed the game for contacting genealogy leads. Here’s why – genealogy leads are NOT opt-in leads. They never gave you permission to call or email them. By contacting them, you are violating a federal law… namely those who are on the list.

Tracy Biller disagrees with me on this. I have heard him say to not worry about it. Just politely remove the person from your list and move on. To me, it’s too big a risk. Here you are trying to contact a person, and now you’re being threatened by a lawsuit. No thank you. I don’t need a $5K – $15K fine. Odds are in your favor that you won’t be fine, but it used to be that odds were in your favor that you wouldn’t be busted for downloading songs and movies too. Not so much now. You and your downline do not need to test the odds.

2) Bring on the lawyers and lawsuits. When I was selling these lists and contacting some of these leads myself, I received WAY too many calls from lawyers, CEO’s of network marketing companies, presidents of companies, etc. threatening me for selling, contacting, and attempting to recruit members of their company from a list that was acquired or built illegally. No one has, or has had permission to sell their downline report. It is illegal and I want no part of that market.

One time I was contacted by a lawyer while I was golfing with my 7-year old son. That was fun. I was immediately put into a conference call with the CEO and president. I was threatened and I was just able to get out of being sued.

3) Genealogy reports are NOT actually someone’s actual downline report. The vast majority of genealogy reports that have been for sale on the internet have been “built” by one or two people. How do I know this? I have spoken with the creators of these reports, and they have verified with me all that they have done and that they hold the master lists. One guy was from Canada and the other from California.

They use highly sophisticated software to harvest the names from a company’s self-replicated websites on the internet. If your company gave you a website with your contact information on it… then your contact information can be found.

This software slowly and meticulously crawls thru the internet harvesting contact information, compiling it, and building these databases. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Tracy Biller or anyone else got this “secret” list from an anonymous distributor. 98% of the genealogy lists out there are harvested. The 2% that are not are black lists that were acquired illegally and against a company’s policies and terms of service. Legal action can and will be taken against these people.

4) Identity theft isn’t just stealing someone’s credit card. This is HUGE! By holding in your hand a list of names that were acquired illegally, how does that look? If you doubt me, give your MLM company’s legal department a call and ask them what would happen if you acquired a list of a few hundred or a few thousand names of distributors from their company and you sold them. It doesn’t matter how you got that list. You bought it, harvested it yourself, or had your 10-year old son hack the server and you downloaded the company list (I had a list just like that many years ago – remember the lawyer who contacted me on the golf course? Yep, that list was given to me from a guy who got it from another guy who had hacked the server as an act of revenge from the company that terminated him).

While you may not be going after someone’s credit card number, genealogy lists are names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses (and sometimes much more than this) that you do not have a legal right to have in your possession. I, personally, do not want that kind of information.

Conclusion

With all that said… Tracy Biller’s ideas sound great and he gives a good speech, but they are outdated and one is walking a fine line between moral vs. immoral and legal vs. illegal. Tracy, decent guy, but I strongly advice against his methods or any other person who thinks that contacting genealogy leads is the better way to build your business.

You may have a different opinion… fine… but the stakes are too high to do something stupid. There are better, easier, and more proven ways to build, grow, and enjoy your home-based business.