By Melissa Grau
Have you ever googled your name only to find your personal information made readily available without your consent? I went down this rabbit hole to find out how to get our personal information removed from popular websites.
Most of these websites bury their particular opt out policy deep. None of this stuff should have ever been online in the first place. They assume you're opted in until you opt out - but make it extremely difficult to know if you can opt out to begin with, and how.
According to a GlassDoor review on MyLife.com, one employee stated that: “Many in CS [customer service] tell me they are instructed to avoid honoring removal requests at all costs. Told to push membership when people call to complain. But if threatened a lawsuit or call to the AG [Attorney General], they will budge. Not right."
So, how do we get our information removed?
There are websites that promise to take care of this for you, such as abine.com. Their prices vary, ranging from $129 to $350 depending on which plan you choose. What is important to know that there is something you can do if you are willing to spend the time and not the money.
This is how I went about it: I first created a separate email account with unique information. Many of these sites will request an e-mail address to verify your identity and I felt more comfortable not using my work or personal e-mail address. I went down the following list, which roughly took 2 hours, not including the time it will take me to follow to make sure I was actually removed.
Visit: http://ecsnow.com/accountant-blog/default.asp for easy clickable URLs to opt out from each website listed below.
- Intelius - https://www.intelius.com/optout
They say requets will be answered within 72 hours and you will be provided with a reference number.
- Acxiom - https://isapps.acxiom.com/optout/optout.aspx
- Zabasearch - https://www.zabasearch.com/block_records/
According to their website, Zabasearch requires faxed documentation.
- Spokeo - https://www.spokeo.com/optout
This optout process was similar to the Intelius. I received a confirmation e-mail and was told to wait 2-3 days for changes to be made into effect.
- Beenverified - https://www.beenverified.com/f/optout/search
This optout process is the same – you select your profile, provide an e-mail address, and request to be opted out. I received an e-mail confirmation when I requested to opt out.
- Peekyou - https://www.peekyou.com/about/contact/optout/
- USSearch - https://www.intelius.com/optout -They use Intelius.
- Peoplefinders - https://www.peoplefinders.com/manage
This one was instantaneous. I was on the website under two different names/ages and once I removed the first one, and went to search for the second one, the first one was gone already.
- Peoplelookup - https://www.peoplelookup.com/privacy-policy#updating-or-removing-your-information
They request a verification of your ID via fax or postal mail. I sent both – Waiting to see which one is effective.
- Peoplesmart - https://www.peoplesmart.com/optout-go
This one is also similar to the other websites. You find your profile, select it, and are sent a confirmation email to request to be opted out. It will also be 72 hours before your information is removed. I also had a few aliases on this website with misspellings of my name, etc. Be sure to opt out of all of them.
- PrivateEye - https://www.privateeye.com/static/view/optout/
- USA People Search - https://www.usa-people-search.com/manage/
They claim that within a few hours, you should no longer be found.
- Public Records Now - https://www.publicrecordsnow.com/static/view/optout/
- DOBSearch - https://www.dobsearch.com/people-finder/pf_manage_help.php
- Radaris - https://radaris.com/page/how-to-remove
Radaris requires verifying your information and providing a cell phone number.
- Fastpeoplesearch - https://www.fastpeoplesearch.com/removal
- Voterrecords.com - Find your listing. Click view details button. All the way at the bottom, click "Record Opt-Out"
These sites are proving to be more difficult:
- Mylife.com- e-mail them at: email@example.com, with a link to your profile and request to be removed, or call them at (888) 704-1900. They say it will take 7-10 days for your information to be removed.
I e-mailed and called them and e-mailing them was much faster. When I called them, I was customer number “41” in line, but it only took roughly 11 minutes to speak to a customer service representative. On the phone, they claim my profile will be completely removed within 24 hours and will be off other search enginges, such as Google, within 5 days.
- Whitepages - https://www.whitepages.com/suppression_requests or https://www.whitepages.com/data-policy (#8 tells you what to do).
This one is going to be a pain. I had one listing with a “lock” symbol next to it, which in short means that I could not provide the properly formatted URL that they required for removal. For another listing, I copied the URL of it and received a confirmation phone call. I also sent an e-mail with the links to the profiles I wanted removed. The website says it can take up to 30 days to remove your information.
This is their phone number if you have difficulties removing your listings: 1-800-916-7806
Remember, persistence is key. You may also find that as you remove yourself from websites, you won’t find yourself on other websites as you go down the list. If you do not have luck with their online opt-out service, try finding their phone number. In next month’s article, we will let you know how it went for me. Best wishes to you and let us know if you were able to get your information removed from these public websites by giving us a call at 714-282-6400 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.