How to Remove Your Information From People-Search Sites
Key points about: opting out of data brokers and people-search sites
Data brokers collect personal information or buy it from various sources to be sold to other people or companies.
People-search sites are a specific kind of data broker that allow anyone access to your personal information, like your name, address, and phone number.
Removing your information from people-search sites can help to increase your online privacy.
How much of your information is online? It’s likely more than you think. With online browsing and regular social media activities, it’s easy to leave an online trail of who you are and where you live, making it easier for sites like data brokers to collect and potentially sell your information for a fee.
What are data brokers & how do they collect information?
Data brokers buy and often sell personal information to companies or other people. But how do data broker sites get this data in the first place? You may be surprised at how much of your personal info is freely available to companies that want it. Data broker sites can do a lot of data collection from public records—which can include a lot of information. Your public records may include census data, birth certificates, voter registration information, bankruptcy records, divorce records, and more.
What are people-search sites?
If you’ve ever used a search engine to look yourself up, you may have come across a people-search site with your information.
People-search sites (also called people-finder sites) are one kind of data broker that collects, stores, and may sell your personal information to other people and companies. Some of this information is public, like what you would find in local, state, and federal public records. People-search websites may also buy your personal information from companies that you’ve interacted with online.
Unlike other kinds of data broker websites that companies may use to market to you, anyone can get on a people-search site and find your personal information—some that you may not even realize is public. Some people-search sites are ad-supported and give users free access to anyone’s personal details any time they want. While other sites require a subscription or one-time fee for more in-depth information and background reports.
A more detailed report can contain a laundry list of highly sensitive information, like court records, marriage licenses, people you’ve lived with, and your social media account names. With just a few clicks, anyone can have access to your name, address, and phone number.
Having a warehouse full of information about yourself accessible to anybody without your permission is an unsettling thought. Keeping your information off people-finder sites may not be easy, because so much of the information is public record. But there are a few ways you can opt out of some of the most popular people-search sites and make your information more difficult to find.
Why you should remove your personal information from people-search sites
There may be good reasons for people to want to find you using a people-search site. Some use people-search sites to find old friends or colleagues. And some businesses use these sites to collect information to offer you goods or services that you might find really helpful.
While many who access data broker and people-search sites aren’t typically using your information maliciously, there are some who may use your information for more devious purposes. Among them are cybercriminals; having information on the web potentially exposes you to such individuals. These criminals perform illegal activities using computers and other forms of digital technology, like the internet. Cybercriminals use different methods like hacking, identity theft, online scams, and fraud, mostly for financial profit.
Sometimes, cybercriminals can even hack into the people-search site databases via a data breach and access your personal and sensitive information. When identity thieves have your personal data, they can use it to access your financial information, open lines of credit, or even take out loans. This type of identity theft can have lasting effects on your credit and financial well-being.
Besides the threat of cybercriminals, there might be some personal details you just don’t want out there for the world to see, like your health, criminal record, or financial details. Removing your information from people-finder sites could help boost your online privacy and help protect your online reputation.
How do you remove your information from people-search sites?
There are many risks to having your personal data online but taking the steps to remove your information from people-search sites may take some time. You’ll have to make a separate removal request for every people-finder site where you want your information deleted. Because there are so many of these sites, removing your name from all of them can take time.
The steps involved for removing your information from each site may be different. The process can take longer on some sites than others. For example, some people-finder sites may require you to create an account on the site in order to request the deletion. Not only that, but because these data broker sites are always collecting information, your data runs the risk of showing up online again. You may need to keep up to date on these sites and periodically request deletion if your info shows up again.
If you choose to manually remove your information from people-finder sites, keep a spreadsheet of the data brokers you contacted and any follow-up actions that you should take.
Getting your information removed from people-search sites is just one step you can take to help boost your online privacy.
Discover could help you reduce the number of unwanted phone calls and emails you receive and help safeguard you against identity theft by helping you remove your personal information from select people-search websites that could sell your data. Activate free recurring protection with our mobile app.1
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