An Omaha company provides free telephone directory services for any resident or business in the country via the Internet.
If you've ever tried to track down a long-lost friend or distant relative, you'll appreciate a new free service.
American Business Information Inc. of Omaha recently launched an Internet World Wide Web site that includes a complete telephone directory of the United States.
The service, called LookupUSA, contains the names, phone numbers and addresses of every person and business in every telephone book in the country. Most of the offerings now appear online, but Jack Betts, senior vice president, said additional listings will be available soon.
More than 1 million people are expected to use LookupUSA before the end of the year, Betts said. The company may form partnerships to accommodate the expected number of users.
Between $500,000 and $1 million is being used to develop LookupUSA. So why is the company spending money to offer the free service?
"We offer a lot of different informational services, so just the awareness from the millions of Internet users will help our business," Betts said Monday during a telephone interview.
"A certain number of users will become interested in the more in-depth information we provide, such as how many employees does the company have or what are their sales figures."
Although LookupUSA is a new Internet service, the same information used to be available though CD-ROM. Customers paid a monthly fee to get access to the names, addresses and phone numbers of any business in the country.
The company charges for in-depth business information or customized informational lists it compiles, such as a listing of all women business owners.
Since its inception in 1972, the company has been collecting information on U.S. and Canadian companies using phone books and telephone surveys. Businesses can use that information to generate sales leads or make credit decisions.
Also, Betts said LookupUSA can be used to plan vacations, find a former spouse that owes child support or even track down crooks.
Because the information comes directly out of telephone books, Betts said American Business Information is not violating anyone's privacy because it uses public information. Unlisted numbers are not contained on LookupUSA.
The privately owned company has more than 500,000 customers, 850 employees and recorded $86.8 million in revenue in 1995.
The Lawrence Journal-World has been compiling e-mail white and yellow pages information for two months.
So far, more than 475 individuals are in the on-line white pages and about 65 businesses are listed in the yellow pages.
Listing are free and include e-mail address and World Wide Web page addresses.
Web surfers can instantly register using a home computer and a web browser.