Thursday, July 30, 2009

Karren Kraemer's Relentless Search For Her Daughter, Becky

A Mother's Crusade for a Missing Daughter

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lorne Bridgman

It was a wintry Saturday night in Milwaukee, and 23-year-old Becky Marzo was out with friends at a local dance club, drinking, dancing, playing darts. Around midnight, Becky's cell phone rang. It was Carl Rodgers II, her live-in boyfriend, wanting to know when she was coming home. "I'm not ready to leave," she told him. A few minutes later, he called again, upset. They argued, and Becky hung up. He called again -- and then again.

"Just turn the phone off," her friend Kristina Randall finally said.

At 2 in the morning, Kristina drove Becky home and waited at the curb for the sign that all was well. "She turned on the light and waved out the window," Kristina says.

And then she was gone.

Becky's mother, Karren Kraemer, sits at her dining-room table in jeans and a sweatshirt. The suburban home, in a cul-de-sac near the town of Oconomowoc, WI, about 35 miles west of Milwaukee, is warm and bright, but worry lines crease the 47-year-old mother's face.

"I was getting ready to go to work," Karren says, remembering the chilly day in January 2004 when her niece called to say that Becky had disappeared. "She said, 'Auntie Karren, I don't know what's going on, but something's happened to Becky.'" A wave of dread swept over Karren; she frantically dialed her daughter's cell but didn't get an answer -- just Becky's voice mail, her greeting backed by Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."

"I told my husband I thought something happened," Karren says, clenching her hands. "I'd been having dreams about Becky. So when my niece called, I thought right away that Becky was dead." Fueling her fear was the fact that Karren and her husband, Dave, hadn't spoken to their daughter in eight months, following a string of arguments they'd had with her about Carl. They knew he was abusive -- they'd seen the bruises -- but their daughter had refused to leave him.

"She would defend him and say, 'It was an accident,'" Karren says. "But we had heard the excuses long enough. We decided to try tough love and told her she couldn't come home again until she broke up with him." Karren stares out the window. "There are some things parents will never forgive themselves for," she says. "And that's one of them."

Karren called the police and said that none of Becky's friends or colleagues had heard from her since the night of December 13, 2003. "But they said Becky had the right to go missing," and didn't open an investigation, she says.

Karren knew that Becky wouldn't just vanish on her own. She was right on the verge of completing an accounting degree, while holding down a job at Target. "She had never missed a day at work," Karren says. "She wanted to be an accountant, have kids, the whole white-picket-fence thing." So Karren hired a private investigator, continued trying to call Becky, and kept after the police. Time and again, she says, the officers dismissed her concerns, despite the fact that Becky had once filed a complaint against Carl.

Finally, Karren drove to a Milwaukee precinct station. "I'm not leaving until you file a report," she insisted. As she waited, officers brought Carl in for questioning -- with Karren in the same room. She was stunned. "I know you killed Becky!" she told him. Carl didn't blink. Police classified Becky as a missing person, but didn't open a homicide investigation since there was no evidence of a crime.

It's not unusual for a case like Becky's to be sidelined by police. Hundreds of thousands of missing-person complaints are filed each year in the U.S., and, unlike the case of, say, Natalee Holloway -- the American teen who famously disappeared in Aruba in 2005 -- most cases don't get much notice. If a family does persuade police to open a homicide investigation, the case can drag on for months, even years, without a resolution. Most, in fact, are never solved, and it falls to the families to do the legwork.

That was certainly the case for Karren Kraemer, who, with hardly any information to go on, became a mother on an extreme mission -- channeling her sorrow, anger, and guilt into an all-consuming drive to find her daughter.

Karren's crusade began with flyers; she posted hundreds of them around Milwaukee, on lampposts and telephone poles in Carl's neighborhood, in the parking lot where he worked, along the street where his parents lived. "Please help us find Becky," the flyers implored, showing her smiling, round face framed by blonde hair, her vibrant blue eyes behind wire-rim glasses. Listed on the flyers were Becky's identifying features: 5-foot-3, 130 pounds, double-pierced ears, a tattoo on her back of a heart pricked by a red rose.

Posting the flyers became an obsession for Karren: She would get out of bed in the middle of the night, fill a thermos with strong coffee, and drive from her rural home to paper the town in the predawn hours, often in tears. Sometimes she would talk to people on the street, even vagrants: "There were some bad neighborhoods, but I can't remember ever being scared. I mean, what kind of person would hurt a mother who's trying to find her daughter?"

As she made her rounds, memories of Becky haunted her. "Becky was bubbly," Karren says, pointing to photos in the front hallway. "She was petite and brainy, but naive. And she was such a trouper. She always brought home the underdogs from school -- she felt that if she could only befriend them, their lives would change." Becky volunteered in the D.A.R.E. antidrug program in school and played clarinet; on a band trip to New York, she gave her money to homeless people in Central Park. "She thought she could fix the world," Karren recalls.

Soon Karren ratcheted up her campaign even more, quitting her six-figure job as a manager at Kinko's to take a lower-paying job at Target, in the hope of ingratiating herself with Becky's former colleagues to gain information. "They told me Becky would come to work with bruises on her cheeks," she says. But they hadn't heard from her since the day she'd vanished.

Karren then sent around a feel-good video of Becky to local news stations, showing a sentimental young woman who collected Winnie the Pooh trinkets, loved country music, and was addicted to Yahtzee. Karren also called on psychics, following their leads to a set of railroad tracks and a river where they believed her daughter might be buried. She even enlisted "cadaver dogs" to search for a body. "If a psychic tells me there's a chance that Becky is down at the bottom of a river, I want to jump in and find her," she says. "You try anything."

Karren began to stalk Carl as well, reporting any suspicious move he made to the police. "I sat outside the house," she says. On the hood of his parked car, she would leave little calling cards with an illustration of Pooh, a reminder that she was always nearby. "I wanted to keep the fire burning under him," she says, with anger in her voice. "I wanted him to watch me hang flyers. I wanted him to watch me knock on doors. I wanted him to know he wasn't going to get away with it." Yet she also kept her distance, never confronting him face-to-face. And she continued to ask police to look into Carl's involvement, to no avail. "Right now, Becky is on the bottom of the workload," snapped one detective. Karren was livid. "You owe it to me to find my baby!" she said, sobbing.

In December 2004, a year after Becky's disappearance, Karren tried yet another approach. "I brought police the video of Becky," she says. "I went down to the precinct with a bag of peanuts, cookies, hot chocolate. And they sat down and watched the video." Finally, thanks to her perseverance, investigators began pursuing Becky's disappearance as a possible homicide, questioning Carl's friends and family and searching his house. But the proof fell short. There simply wasn't enough evidence to charge Carl with a crime.

Karren's hope began to fade. Becky's credit cards showed no activity; her driver's license had expired; she'd left behind an uncashed paycheck for $500. Karren struggled to accept the fact that her daughter was really gone. "I wouldn't let anybody go in her bedroom," she says. "I didn't change a thing. We held on to all her clothes and photo albums."

Still, she believed there was enough circumstantial evidence to find Carl guilty. So she kept digging. She discovered that Carl's uncle, a former cop, owned a funeral home not far from Carl's house -- and that his car and Carl's had been parked outside the funeral home at 4 a.m. on the day Becky had gone missing. (Records of parking tickets had confirmed this.) Karren convinced a district attorney to approve the exhumation of two graves in a cemetery south of Milwaukee -- burials performed by Carl's uncle days after Becky's disappearance. But still, no luck.

Karren's punishing crusade took its toll. Her marriage suffered as Dave grew withdrawn, declining to participate in his wife's increasingly driven campaign. Her health deteriorated as well. "I got very sick," she says. "I had an erratic heart rate and had to have surgery for that. I had stress fractures in both feet because I walked so much. It was all stress," she adds, tears welling in her eyes. "Becky had so much more to give. And this guy took so much away."

Lorne Bridgman

Born in Texas and raised in Milwaukee, Karren met her husband, a maintenance engineer and avid sportsman, when she was 17. They married and had five children, raising them in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. "We were what you'd consider an average family," Karren says, recalling the days when her children were young. "We were strict parents. When the streetlights came on, the kids had to come home."

Karen raised the kids while studying business management and criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. For years, she worked as a police dispatcher, which is where she developed a keen eye for investigative work. In 2000, Karren and Dave moved their family to Oconomowoc, where they live today in a three-bedroom home surrounded by flowerbeds, the garage crowded with bicycles and a riding lawn mower.

Becky had some health issues when she was young -- she was treated for depression as a teenager, and suffered hearing loss that required several surgeries -- yet her health didn't diminish her playfulness. "Becky was real fun," laughs Karren, grabbing a bottle of water from her refrigerator. "I remember when she was maybe 16 or 17, we went to the grocery store together, and she picked up a package of Depends, then yelled to me down the aisle: 'Hey Mom, what size diapers do you wear?'"

Becky married young, at age 19, taking the last name of her groom, a less-than-ambitious guy named Mike Marzo. But the marriage soon fell apart. She was 20 and very impressionable when she met Carl, in February 2001. He was 12 years older and a charmer, a handsome man who raced high-performance automobiles and rode a red motorcycle. Six months after they met, Becky moved into his place.

"We started noticing pinch marks on her arms," Karren recalls. "And her behavior changed. Whenever she came home, we would get into an argument and then she'd cry. I said, 'This is crazy. We don't know why you're staying with him. You don't have to.'"

Karren and Dave persuaded their daughter to move back home with them around Christmas in 2002. Carl was furious. He called Becky repeatedly. One time Karren intercepted the call. "How could you hurt her like that?" she yelled at him. His reply? "She fell."

Eventually, like so many victims of domestic violence, Becky gave in to Carl. "Don't you understand? I have no choice," she said to her father. "I have to go back."

A few months went by before Becky finally called the police, in April 2003. Carl had broken her nose, bruised her ribs, and torn out chunks of her hair. He was arrested and charged with battery. "At this point we're begging her to break up with him," Karren says. But Becky wouldn't budge. In what they saw as a last resort, Karren and Dave pursued their "tough love" approach, and told her to leave him or leave them, essentially.

So Becky took off for Florida, and Karren tracked her down by phone. "But she just wanted me to leave her alone," she says, her eyes downcast. "That was the last time I talked to her."

Soon after, Becky returned to Milwaukee and stayed with a friend. A day or two later, she abruptly moved back in with Carl and recanted her allegations. "I can tell you I probably cried every day for a month after I found out," Karren says. "I had a premonition: I just knew that this man was going to kill her...if only I could go back in time."

Months passed. On December 10, 2003, a judge formally dismissed the battery charges against Carl. Three days later, Becky disappeared.

Amid the investigation into Becky's disappearance, Karren discovered a new calling. Last year, she cofounded Broken Wings Network, an advocacy group for families of missing persons and domestic-violence victims; she also speaks about domestic violence at Wisconsin high schools and correctional facilities. Debbie Culberson, who started Broken Wings with Karren, also had a daughter who went missing, after breaking off a brutal relationship 12 years ago. "We've dug up barns; we've drained ponds," says Debbie, 54, over the phone, her voice strained by grief. "You picture yourself holding your daughter, her physical body, in your arms for all those years. Just knowing where that body is...that's what Karren and I don't have."

The two have found solace in their shared cause. But solace isn't all Karren is looking for. She needs resolution. Justice.

And there was certainly a measure of it in the shocking phone call she received from police on October 5, 2007: Carl, they said, had been found dead inside his car in his garage -- a victim of probable carbon-monoxide poisoning. A month earlier, he had been charged with raping his girlfriend; a trial had been set for January 23. He'd left a suicide note in his kitchen: "I never killed anybody," it read. "I never raped anybody. I'm just tired of all this."

For Karren, it meant she would never again have to lay eyes on the man she believes killed her daughter, or picture him enjoying his life -- getting on with it. But it also meant that Carl would take the knowledge of Becky's whereabouts with him to the grave. Still, Karren says, "I'm not going to let him win. I will find her."

She doesn't blame herself for Carl's suicide. "I think he did it because he felt it was the final control over what would happen to him," she says. "I'm past the point of hatred, but I haven't forgiven him. Forgiveness is a very personal thing." For his part, Carl's stepfather, Jeffrey Stemper, says, "This woman had been harassing him [for years]. No evidence has ever been shown that he did this crime." A huge portion of Karren's life now remains on hold. She has cashed out her 401K to pay for her ongoing investigation, and her marriage is in disarray. "Dave and I argue every day," she admits. "I'm just not who I was four years ago."

Since then, she has had a recurring dream: Becky standing before her, holding her hand out to Karren, crying, and asking her mother to find her.

So Karren's search goes on -- along with the police investigation. Says Detective Vickie Hall, "If I were a missing person, I would like to have Karren Kraemer looking for me."

"I'm at the point where I'll do anything to find Becky," Karren says. "Until you can bury your child, you really don't have that closure. I want to say good-bye."

Kurt Chandler is a senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Advocate and on His latest book is Shaving Lessons: A Memoir of Father and Son (Chronicle Books).

Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: A Mother's Crusade for a Missing Daughter

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Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Your Missing Loved Ones Search Ends With Grief

When a missing person is found deceased

Sometimes the discovery of a missing loved one is not always favourable. Family members and friends may be notified by police that the missing person is deceased. This can give rise to a mixture of emotions.

There may be feelings of relief that the search is finally over. The anxiety has subsided and there is a sense of ‘knowing'. Family members and friends may feel that they are able to seek some resolution for they now have the opportunity toformally farewell their loved one.

At the same time there may be feelings of grief and loss that finally surface once your fears have been confirmed. Family members and friends now mourn the loss of their loved one with greater certainty. They are also saddened and disappointed that their search efforts did not end with a better discovery – one that would reunite them with their loved one.

Accompanying these feelings is often a sense of bewilderment and confusion. With the news that their loved one is deceased, family members and friends have a limited opportunity to learn about the circumstances that led up to the missing person's absence. Often they are left wondering about the possible answers to their many questions.

As mentioned in the preceding section, preoccupation with unanswered questions can continue to stifle daily living. The ability to concentrate and carry out responsibilities may be hindered.

When we live for long periods with an ambiguous loss some families begin to get used to not knowing, once a death has been confirmed that glimmer of hope that the person may be alive is extinguished. There are no further possibilities available to them.

Families may continue to seek assistance from their counsellor or they may wish to seek alternate support from bereavement services. There is no need to make quick decisions, do what you feel will be of greater support to you.

The Long Wait – When a missing person remains missing

Although the majority of missing persons are located , a number are not. Many family members and friends have waited years, and continue to wait, for news of their loved one. They go on with their daily lives while never losing sight of a possible reunion:

‘Each day when I wake up I don't think its another day that I haven't seen my daughter I think its another day closer to her coming home'

The journey travelled by these family members and friends often becomes more manageable in time. Yet, it is still a difficult path. Emotions can continue to fluctuate indefinitely, akin to a turbulent roller coaster ride. This is because the experience of loss remains uncertain and lacks clarity.

Although reported sightings of the missing person can bring hope to family members and friends, the reports can also “rekindle a grief that was beginning to heal” . This in turn can intensify the swing of the emotional pendulum, which swings between feelings of hope or contentment, and feelings of despair.

It is important to recognise that this is a normal part of the journey travelled by the family members and friends of missing persons. Unfortunately, though there is no quick solution – “people must find their own way out of the ambiguity” . However, with the support and guidance of an experienced counsellors and mental health service provider the emotional swings can become more manageable.

Someone is Missing - website and booklet that focuses on the emotional and mental health needs of families and friends of missing persons.

The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit provides a free and confidential counselling service. FFMPU believe that by reaching out for support the experience of having someone missing might become a little easier.

FFMPU is the only service of its kind in Australia that provides specialised therapeutic support to families and friends of missing people.

The counselling service responds to the ambiguous or unresolved loss that follows the disappearance of a loved one. This type of loss is not commonly experienced in the community and people often speak of a sense of isolation and confusion when faced with a loss that is can be temporary or permanent.

FFMPU uses the national counselling framework 'Supporting those who are left behind' when engaging with families and friends of missing people. The framework was developed following a Churchill Fellowship in 2006 that explored the international approach to unresolved loss. The framework is useful not only for service providers but for families and friends wanting to understand better the impact of 'missing' on their lives. The framework, published by the Australian Federal Police National Missing Persons Coordination Centre, can be downloaded here or a kit containing the framework and an instructional DVD can be ordered free of charge from

The more recently written report, Best Practice in Counselling Models Relevant to Families and Friends of Missing Persons, (Hunter Institute of Mental Health, 2001), provides an extensive overview of the relevant literature. It also outlines various counselling models and their suitability for use with missing persons-related support services. Eight recommendations are made, for the provision of more appropriate training for those providing support services, and for suitably trained counselors to be clearly accessible to their client base.

The focus of the current report is on the various support needs expressed by relatives and friends of missing persons and how these needs can most satisfactorily be met.

You may download a copy of the full report in Word format (307 KB): Support Needs of Family and Friends of Long Term Missing Persons

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NamUs = Naming the Nameless and Finding the Missing

New Path To Restore Identities Of Missing

Web Site Combines Details of Remains, Disappearances

Washington Post Staff Writer 
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Authorities in Virginia have identified the body of a teenager who went missing 14 years ago in their first success using a new nationwide database that seeks to put names on thousands of dead people who have gone unidentified, sometimes for decades.

Prosecutors in Maryland hope to use the same system to finally close a homicide case that has resulted in a mistrial and a hung jury.

The U.S. Department of Justice's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, is an online tool aimed at naming the countless John and Jane Does whose remains have been shelved in the offices of medical examiners and police forensic labs across the country. It matches missing persons cases with the nameless bodies or skeletons.

Police, medical examiners, coroners and family members all have access to the database, and they try to take information from the years-old missing persons reports and match them to details from the dead bodies.

In the Virginia case, a detailed description of Toussaint Gumbs's body -- down to a scar on the 16-year-old's thigh -- was entered on the site. A volunteer surfing the Web flagged the similarities with reports of Toussaint's disappearance in Richmond. Using the latest DNA technology, officials helped confirm the teenager's death and finally gave his family an answer.

For Robert Gumbs, who was convinced that his son had gotten into drugs and run off with friends, the truth brought pain but also a chance to mourn.

"I just started screaming in my room," said Gumbs, who lives in New York and learned of his son's death in recent weeks. "I never thought that he was dead. The last words he said to me was, 'Pop, I'll be right back, because we have to talk.' "

Kristina Rose, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, said the potential for NamUs is extraordinary. "Instead of having this fragmented system where people go to coroners, to medical examiners, to law enforcement, we have everything in a central repository," she said. "People can participate in identifying their loved ones. They are the ones who are going to work late into the night to go through the case files."

Each year, about 4,400 sets of unidentified human remains turn up in parks, woods, abandoned houses and other places, according to a 2007 federal report. Although authorities quickly identify most of them, about 1,000 are still unknown a year later. Estimates of the total vary widely, from 13,500 to 40,000.

The Web site linking the rolls of the missing with the descriptions of the dead is growing daily as authorities and family members add entries. It is a sad catalogue of clues, some gruesome, some mundane. A woman who died in Rock Creek Park in February 2008 carried lip balm and a bag of wrapped hard candy in the pocket of her blue winter coat. A young man killed in a fiery 1983 car crash in Montgomery County had a mustache. In 1976, a woman's headless, fingerless body, naked and bound, washed up on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

"There are mothers and fathers that, for years, wake up every day wanting to know what happened to their child. That's why we do this," said Arthur Eisenberg, co-director of the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, which works to identify remains and provides free DNA testing to family members of the missing.

The database gives hope to people such as Darlene Huntsman, who has never stopped searching for her sister, Bernadette Caruso. One day in 1986, Caruso, among the more than 100,500 people reported missing nationwide as of this month, left her job at a Baltimore County jewelry store. The young mother has not been seen by her family since.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

About Peace4 by the Mother of Heather Teague

At 4:18pm on July 25, 2009, Sarah Teague said…

Peace4 has become a part of my daily routine! I feel I can connect to so many people and that gives my heart the balance it needs to survive another day not knowing where my firstborn daughter, Heather Danyelle Teague is. Peace4 has reached out and enveloped many hearts and there is a strong connection that we have. Hope must be shared. Hope must be renewed...sometimes daily...sometimes hourly...Our journey is not an easy one. We take nothing for granted. We have searched in places a mother should not have to search for her child... Every word in our vocabulary has been changed and rearranged, so we see the world differently than most. Peace4 allows us to voice and to vent and to share the beat of our hearts. I know I am heard here and I know I am loved here and I know my Heather is remembered here. We are seeing people come home! Matt is alive and Alice will have a proper good-bye! We ain't seen nothin' yet!! Matthew 10:26!!

Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

There Is HOPE NOW, Outreach Efforts Available for Homeowners

What is HOPE NOW?
HOPE NOW is an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies, investors, and other mortgage market participants. This alliance will maximize outreach efforts to homeowners in distress to help them stay in their homes and will create a unified, coordinated plan to reach and help as many homeowners as possible. The members of this alliance recognize that by working together, they will be more effective than by working independently.

Click here to see full list of Alliance members. The Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development encouraged leaders in the lending industry, investors and non-profits to form this alliance. 
Who can I call for help?
The Making Home Affordable Program is part of the President's broad, comprehensive strategy
to get the economy back on track. The plan will help up to 7 to 9 million families restructure or
refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. The plan can help responsible homeowners
who are at risk of default or are facing foreclosure.
Q & A about the PlanDoes Fannie or Freddie own my loan?
Click here to learn more


Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

Sunday, July 19, 2009

43 states and 225 law enforcement agencies already participating in NamUs

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, is the first national system designed to compare information about unidentified remains with missing persons cases.

Funded by the U.S. Justice Department, it is available, free of charge, to law enforcement and the public, at

"This has the potential to truly revolutionize the handling of cases of missing persons and unidentified remains," said Todd Matthews, the Southeast regional director for NamUs. "It is a huge step forward for investigators, and it gives the families and friends of missing persons a chance to become part of the process of finding their loved one."

Victims' families, police agencies, medical examiners, coroners and the general public can search for possible matches between missing persons and unidentified decedents.

To keep ongoing investigations secure, part of NamUs is set aside for law enforcement access only, so investigators can post and share information or details they do not wish made public, Matthews said.

NamUs has two databases: One has information about unidentified bodies, entered from medical examiners and coroners. It can be searched using characteristics such as sex, race, tattoos or other distinct body features, and dental information. The other contains information on missing persons cases.

Law enforcement users will have the ability to automatically cross-reference the two databases, reducing the time it takes an investigator to search them. If a close match is found, the investigator can turn to forensic services to conduct further testing, such as a dental records check or a DNA test.

NamUs only began taking records in January and is still in the growing stages. While the FBI's National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, will have around 100,000 missing persons cases listed as "active" at any given time, NamUs currently has 1,828 such cases, plus cases of 5,329 unidentified human bodies, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sheila Jerusalem. But 43 states and 225 law enforcement agencies have started participating, and more are expected to enroll as they become aware of the program, she said.

The News Sentinel asked the Justice Department when and if current cases in the NCIC database would be added to the NamUs system, but that information was not provided in time for inclusion in this series.

Friday, July 17, 2009

100 Tips, Tools, and Resources to Protect Your Online Reputation

100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Reputation Management

100 Tips, Tools, and Resources to Protect Your Online Reputation

Author Christina Laun

Provided by Kelly Sonora at

With the advent of online tools that make it easy to share information, meet new people and keep in touch faster than ever, reputation has taken on a twofold dimension. Individuals and businesses no longer have to worry about their reputation in real life but in the virtual world as well, making it twice as hard to keep up with what’s being said. There are some ways that you can work to manage your online reputation, however, whether you’re doing it for yourself or for your business. These resources provide tips and tools to make it easier to track, control and manage your online reputation so you stay on top and in control of your personal and professional image.


Here are some general tips to consider when managing your online reputation.

  1. Create official online profiles. Don’t let just anyone talk about you online. Create your own profiles and websites complete with the kind of information you actually want to be available about you.
  2. Check what people are saying about you online. Whether good or bad you can do yourself a favor by finding out just what is being said about you online. Use some of the tools mentioned later in this article to keep yourself in the loop.
  3. Stay on the ball. Don’t get lazy about monitoring your reputation. If necessary, perform monthly checks to see if there’s any information about you that could be potentially harmful.
  4. Google yourself. The simplest way to find out where your or your company’s online reputation stands is to Google yourself. See what kind of results pop up first. If they aren’t what they’d like them to be, you’ve got some work to do.
  5. Assume everything can get on the web. Both in your personal and professional life, what you say online and off can come back to bite you. Be safe and assume any emails, conversations or photos out there can eventually end up on the Web.
  6. Choose your words carefully. If you are blogging, running a website or just have a social media profile, be careful what you post. Unless you’re looking for controversy what you say may cause you problems in the future.
  7. Know your weaknesses. If you know your business has a particular weakness or are just familiar with your propensity for getting wild on the weekend, keep this in mind and have it as your top priority for checking on your online reputation.
  8. Protect yourself from hackers. This may seem like it goes without saying, but many people fail to adequately secure their online information. Make sure yours is as safe as it possibly can be.
  9. Keep social networks private. One way to deter prying eyes is to keep your social networking profiles private to all except those you approve. This will keep casual viewers from seeing your information, good or bad.
  10. Consider pseudonyms.If you do want to keep a blog or engage in hijinks on internet message boards, create a name for yourself to hide behind so you can’t be easily tracked.
  11. Be proactive. Instead of waiting until you have an issue with your online reputation, stay ahead of the game. Search for what’s being said about you regularly so you’ll stay up-to-date.
  12. Act fast. If you do find something said or posted about you online that you feel could be particularly damaging to you, take action immediately. Whether its your friend posting photos from your Vegas trip or someone you don’t know slandering your business, taking care of it sooner rather than later is best.
  13. Keep your cool. You may be incensed at what someone has said about you online, but don’t let it show. Keep your anger to yourself and off the internet where it can do more harm than good.


These articles provide some useful and informative reading material for anyone wanting to know more about online reputation both for businesses and individuals.

  1. Protect Your Online ReputationThis article from SEO Chat lays out some basics for monitoring and protecting your online reputation.
  2. Ten Tactics That Could Save Your Online ReputationThe CEO of Trakur gives some great advice in this Mashable article on how your company can avoid reputation meltdown.
  3. How to Manage Your Online ReputationThis article goes through a number of tools and how to use them to keep your reputation intact.
  4. Social Networks Become Powerful Tool in Online Reputation ManagementFind out how social networks are playing a bigger role than ever in online reputation from this short article.
  5. How to Create Online Reputation Tools for Your BrandWorried about the online component of your company’s brand? This article gives some advice on creating custom tools to monitor and control your online rep.
  6. Online Reputation HandbookYou’ll find just about everything you ever wanted to know about online reputation in this helpful handbook.
  7. Manage Your Online ReputationLifehacker gives some great tips and pointers, as well as links to tools that can help you get control of your reputation.
  8. How To Protect, Fix Your Online ReputationFrom keeping problems from arising to fixing them when they do, this article is full of helpful advice.
  9. Using Social Media to Manage Online ReputationFind out how social media can be a help, not just a hindrance, to online reputation.
  10. Basics of Online Reputation ManagementHere you’ll learn the basics of getting your online reputation in order.
  11. Managing Your Reputation OnlineTechnology Review provides this informative article that can help you understand and take action when it comes to your virtual reputation.
  12. Online Reputation Management for IndividualsOnline reputation isn’t just a concern for businesses, and this article explains how individuals can keep their name in good standing as well.

Personal Identity

These tools can help you manage your numerous online profiles, monitor your personal reputation and more.

  1. ClaimIDCheck out this program that uses OpenID to manage your personal identity over several sites, meaning you only have to remember the password for one, not numerous ones.
  2. FindMeOnWant to connect your identity over several sites? FindMeOn lets you do that while keeping your information private and secure.
  3. FreeYourIDMake maintaining your online identity easy, with this tool that bases it directly on your name.
  4. GarlikIf you’re worried that your identity may be more than marred and straight out stolen, give this tool a try. You’ll be able to search for mentions of you on the web that might involve identity theft.
  5. myOpenIDDon’t worry about having multiple logins with this OpenID site.
  6. SpyShakersTry this tool to get access to any of your profile passwords remotely. It specializes in protecting your information from spyware.
  7. TypeKeyTypeKey allows you to integrate your blog into your OpenID, allowing you to manage pretty much everything with one main profile.
  8. RealmeeHere you can create a personal profile that will allow you to more easily control what others can see of you online.
  9. LookUpPageWant to control what people find when they search for you? This site helps out, by giving you a central page that comes up at the top when your name is searched for.
  10. MonitorThis: Try out this site to monitor and track keywords over multiple search engines, giving you clues about who’s talking about you.

Professional Identity

Keep your business’ name out of the mud by protecting it with these helpful tools.

  1. Trust-Index: Find out how well your business is trusted with this tool.
  2. Google AlertsWith Google Alerts you can get email updates of the latest google results based on your name or other topic of your choosing.
  3. BoardTrackerWhether you post on boards yourself or want to see if anyone else is talking about you, this tool makes it easy to filter to threads.
  4. VannoGet an online reputation the democratic way, with this site that allows others to vote on the stories, videos and blogs about your company.
  5. SerphUse this search tool to look up your company and find out just what kind of buzz is going around the web about your company.
  6. SearchlesThis social search engine can help you keep up with the news out about your business.
  7. OmgiliSearch through the numerous forums out there to find out what people are saying about you using this helpful tool.
  8. BoardReaderThis tool is especially useful, allowing users to search through forums, videos, Twitter conversations, IMDB and more.
  9. JoongelZoom in on the type of media you’d like to search with this online tool. Choose from videos, photos, shopping sites, and more.
  10. TechrigyThis company makes it easier and simpler to monitor your business’ reputation online.
  11. KeotagMatch blogs with tags that reflect talk about your business or related topics using this tool.
  12. UpdatePatrolThis tool makes it easy to watch websites for updates and changes, which can sometimes be useful when you want to know what a particular site is saying about you.

Blog Tools

With the great proliferation of blogs out there, it’s worth your time to keep track of what’s being said about you on them. These tools make it easy and convenient to do just that.

  1. ZuulaIf you want to get posts just from blogs, try out this search engine. Users can also limit results to photos or videos.
  2. SezWhoFollow who’s important in the blogging world and what they may be saying about you with this tool. Also useful to find out where your personal blog may stand.
  3. TechnoratiWhether you’re blogging personally or professionally, listing your blog with Technorati can be a big help in managing your online reputation. You’ll get updates whenever someone links to your blog so you can keep tabs on what people are saying about you or your business.
  4. BackType: BackType is a service that lets you find, follow, and share comments from across the Web, allowing you to keep track of where you’ve been and what you’ve said on blogs.
  5. TweetBeepTweetBeep will let you keep track of conversations on Twitter than mention you or your business or anything else you’d like to track.
  6. co.mmentsWhen you sign up for an account with this site you’ll be able to track comments and conversations that can influence your online reputation.
  7. BlogpulseKeep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the blogging world, especially in relation to your business using the tools offered on this site.
  8. Trendpedia: For businesses, this can be a valuable tool to track when and what your business is getting attention for and how you’re doing compared to your competitors.
  9. TwistTwist allows users to compare mentions of several different topics and view recent tweets about each one, making it easy to track info about businesses.
  10. monitterThis tool lets you do much the same as Twist, but you can monitor topics in real-time or by geographic region.
  11. BuzzlogicTrack buzz in the blogging world with this site, and find out just who’s word matters when it comes to blogs.

Profile Management

These tools make it easier to keep track of your social networking profiles and your online reputation in turn.

  1. ComwatUse Comwat to organize your social networking profiles into one so that its easier for others to find and easier to control what they see.
  2. onXiamHere you can establish a central online identity, use this identity to link up all your other sites, and even promote this new online location as well.
  3. OtherEgoShow off everything that you’re involved in on the net through this centralized site.
  4. ZoolitCheck out this landing page service that makes it super easy to manage all the social networks you’ve been using.
  5. VenyoFrom lengthy blogs to simple comments, this site allows you to access everything you’ve done online, building up a trustworthy reputation at the same time.
  6. ProfileMatPull all your existing online profiles together into a “mat” and allow users to comment on this new singular profile instead.
  7. SimplifIDThis site allows users to organize the online world by creating one central place you can access your blogs, social networking sites and more, allowing you to categorize it by type of viewer.
  8. SocialURLHere you can connect all your online identities by linking your social networking profiles to one URL.
  9. ProfileBuilderWant to create a professional looking profile using material from your existing social networks? This site lets you do just that, keeping or blocking the elements you choose and giving you a super useful home page to visit.

Managing Your Reputation

These tools allow you to hunt down what’s being said about you and find out just what others think of you or your business.

  1. NaymzGive this site a try to get feedback from people you’ve worked with, customers and friends.
  2. RapleafHere you can look up your personal or professional reputation, rate other people and businesses and get your own ratings.
  3. RepVineUsing a search engine is the easiest way for people who want to know about you to find out more. This site helps you to control what they find when they do this.
  4. KeotagManage the blogsphere with this site that allows users to find tagged blog posts over several blog search engines.
  5. TrustPl.usAre you trustworthy? This site works by analyzing your or more like your business’ trust scores and giving you a ranking.
  6. FriendFeedWhether you want to keep up with what your friends are looking at or keep up with what’s being said about you personally, this site is a useful tool.
  7. Social Media Fire Hose: This helpful tool tracks your name, brand or product across sites like Digg, FriendFeed and others that specialize in social media.
  8. Radian6This tool makes it easier to monitor social media, often to the benefit of businesses who can use the information to their advantage to build better reputations and products.
  9. CisionFor a fee, this tool can help you monitor “100 million blogs, tens of thousands of online forums, and over 450 leading rich media sites.”
  10. Web of TrustEnsure your website is considered trusted by joining up with this site. After all, no one wants to be associated with a dangerous site– it’s just bad for business.

General Tools

If you haven’t already, bookmark these sites which can be a big help in maintaining your reputation positively online.

  1. DiggCheck out Digg regularly to see if anyone has submitted stories about your or your business.
  2. RedditSimilar to Digg, this site will allow you to see how much interest there is you on the Web.
  3. deliciousThis social bookmarking site is a good place to see if your webpage or information about you or your business is being passed around by others.
  4. FlickrThink there may be some less-than-impressive photos of you out there? Trying searching this photo site to see if you come up.
  5. FacebookFacebook can be a great place to network, just make sure you keep your profile free from things you wouldn’t want spread about you.
  6. MySpaceWith millions of visitors, this popular social networking site can be a great place to get your and your business’ name out there.
  7. LinkedInHere you can create a professional profile that will allow you to interact with others in your profession in a safe and positive manner.
  8. GoogleThere’s no easier way to find out what your online reputation is than to do a simple Google search.
  9. RollyoIf you want a more customized option for searching, try out this great search engine that you can tailor to your online reputation finding needs.
  10. FurlAnother social bookmarking site, here you can track who’s interested in your sites.
  11. TwitterWhether you want to communicate with others or track the buzz about you on the net, Twitter is an essential tool.
  12. Wordpress: If you’re going to start a blog to be the face of you or your company, this site makes it easy to do so.

100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Reputation Management