How To Remove Your Information From People Search Sites
July 25, 2023
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You can remove your personal information from people search sites by searching your name on Google, gathering a list of people search sites, finding your information on each website, locating the opt-out page and submitting a request to opt-out.
Continue reading to learn what people search sites are, detailed steps to removing your information from these sites, and why it’s important to do so.
What Are People Search Sites?
People search sites, also known as people finder sites, are websites that collect, publish and sell your personal information. People search sites are a type of data broker. They collect data from public records, public forums and information that’s posted on social media. Some people search sites also buy information from private companies, including other types of data brokers.
Some people search sites offer information for free, but most require that you create an account, sign up for a subscription or purchase a single report. The pricing on each people search site varies, and depending on what information you want to purchase, it may cost extra.
6 Steps To Remove Your Information From People Search Sites
Here are the steps to removing your personal information from people search sites.
1. Search your name with a search engine
The first step you’ll need to take is searching your name on a standard search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. This will give you a good idea of which people search sites have your personal information and are appearing on the first few pages of search results. If you want the results to match your exact name, search your full name with quotes around it.
As you go through the search results, put together a list of people search sites that have your personal information. This will help you later on.
2. Gather a list of people search sites
The next step you’ll need to take is gathering a list of people search sites that didn’t appear on the first few pages of search results. Some well-known people search sites include the following:
The New York Times also put together a list of people search sites along with each site’s opt-out link.
3. Go to each site and look for your information
After gathering a list of people search sites, you’ll need to go to each site and search your name. You may need to add what city you live in to find out if your personal information is on the website. Because there may be other people with your exact name, you should be sure that you find the correct listing based on other details before requesting to opt out.
4. Find the site’s opt-out page
If your information is on the site, you’ll need to find the site’s opt-out page. Most people search sites have a FAQ page where you can learn how to opt out, but submitting an opt-out request may vary for each site. For example, some websites may request that you provide proof of identity.
5. Submit an opt-out request
After finding the site’s opt-out page, follow directions on the page to submit your opt-out request. The directions for opt-out may request the link to the page that has your personal information or an identification number to submit your request. This is why you have to locate your personal information on the site before you’re able to submit a request.
If you found several listings of your personal information on the site, you’ll have to submit a request for each profile to be deleted.
6. Repeat for each people search site
You’ll need to repeat steps three to five to remove your personal information from each site. While this may take some time, it’ll be worth keeping your personal information private from everyone on the internet.
It’s important to note that while submitting an opt-out request to a people search site may get them to remove your information at that time, they may upload your information again due to new public records becoming available. This means you’ll want to check every few months if new personal information has been published under your name.
Why Should I Remove My Information From People Search Sites?
Here are a few of the reasons why removing your personal information from people search sites is important.
Targeted cyber attacks
A cyber attack is an attack that occurs online and aims to steal or access sensitive information such as your online accounts. Some cybercriminals launch targeted cyber attacks that use your personal information against you.
For example, if a cybercriminal is able to find your home address because of a people search site, they can send you an email pretending to be your electricity provider. Because they know your home address, the email can seem convincing and you may click on a malicious link or attachment.
This type of cyber attack is known as phishing. Phishing uses social engineering tactics to convince targets they’re someone they’re not. The goal is to have their target reveal sensitive information or click on something that triggers a malware infection. Malware is a type of malicious software that can be used to steal information and spy on targeted victims.
Keeps your digital footprint clean
Your digital footprint is the collection of traceable data you leave behind due to your online presence and activities. While it’s not bad to have a digital footprint, it’s important to be aware of what information a person can find about you. Having a robust digital footprint can enable threat actors to target you, stalkers to stalk you and cybercriminals to have access to information to craft targeted attacks.
The information published about you on people search sites is a part of your digital footprint, which is why it’s important you take the steps to clean your digital footprint by removing your information from these sites.
How Can I Keep My Personal Information Private Online?
Here are a few extra steps you can take to keep your personal information private online.
Periodically search your name
To make sure your personal information is staying private, search your name on search engines every once in a while. This will help ensure that if any people search sites post your information online again, you can submit an opt-out request.
Sign up for a service that requests removals on your behalf
Constantly checking if your personal information has been published online can be a hassle to do on your own. There are free and paid services you can sign up for that request removals on your behalf so you don’t have to check on your own.
Some popular services that submit opt-out requests on your behalf to people search sites include the following:
Discover offers free online privacy protection for all its customers with recurring scans every 90 days.
Experian offers monthly privacy scans with their IdentityWorks paid membership.
DeleteMe is a paid service that removes personal information online every 3 months.
Before signing up for a service, consider how many websites it covers, if they’ll provide you with a report of sites it has opted you out of and how often it’ll scan those sites to delete your information.
Protect your social media profiles
Another way you can keep your online personal information private is by using the privacy settings on your social media profiles. You’d be surprised how much information a person can learn about you simply by looking at your public social media profile information and posts.
Be careful about how much you share online
Apart from protecting your social media profiles, it’s important to still be cautious about how much you choose to share on your online profiles. It’s best to never share personal information like where you are at the moment, work-related information, intimate details about your relationship or friendships, and so on.
Oversharing online places you at risk of being targeted in both the digital world and the real world.
Be Vigilant About People Search Sites
Knowing what personal information about you is published online is important because your exposed information places you at a higher risk of being targeted by cybercriminals. It also removes any sense of privacy you have on the internet because anyone will be able to access or pay to view your personal information.
Removing your information from people search sites is just one step in protecting your online privacy. Learn more about how you can protect your privacy online with a few more of our tips.
Aranza Trevino is the Senior SEO Content Specialist at Keeper Security. She is an experienced cybersecurity trend and data analyst who continues to gain industry knowledge to educate readers through her blog efforts. Aranza’s blogs aim to help the public and businesses better understand the importance of password management, password security and staying protected against cyber threats. Aranza has a B.S. in digital marketing from DePaul University.
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