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How to remove your information from people-finder sites

We put a lot of information about ourselves online – job and relationship status on social media as well as home address and billing information while shopping online. All this information can be scraped by people-finder sites, also called people-search sites, and made public for access by anyone. Read on to learn how to remove your information from people-finder sites.

How to remove your information from people-finder sites

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What are people-finder sites?

People-finder sites collect and sell data reports about individuals. These sites scrape information from public records, data brokers, court records, social media profiles, online forums, and other publicly available sources. These data reports may include various personal details like name, email address, and phone number. They may also include sensitive information like home address, the names and details of family members, and sometimes even Social Security numbers.

If your data appears on any of these sites, it becomes available to anyone interested. While most people-search sites require a paid subscription, that just means someone can buy your information and use it in any way they like. That’s why removing your data from people-finder sites is paramount. Doing so will reduce the chances of identity theft, tailored phishing attacks, and other online threats.

How to check if my data is on people-finder sites

Before you embark on a time-consuming quest to remove your information from people-search sites, you should check what personal details these sites may have.

Start with simple research on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Search for variations of your name, initials, email address, and other personal info that could identify you. We advise you not to search for sensitive information like your Social Security number, because search engines log info. If the search engine or your device is compromised, you may be exposed to hackers, scammers, and identity thieves.

The search results will give you an idea of what information about you may be on people-finder sites. However, most sites sell information for a fee, so you may not be able to see your data unless you become a paid member. Furthermore, search results may show that some sites have information about you to lure you in. After you pay, you may discover that the site’s claim was false.

How to remove your data from people-search sites

Various people-finder websites have different policies for processing opt-out requests. Follow our guide below on how to delete your information from sites like Spokeo, MyLife, and BeenVerified.

  1. First, make a list of people-search sites that have your information based on the search you conducted, as described above.
  2. Then, go to each people-finder site and find your details available there. Remember that people on the site may share your name, so you may have to enter more specific information, such as your state or city to be sure that the profile refers to you and not someone else.
  3. Now, review the site’s opt-out policy. The opt-out process varies on each people-search site. Remember that the data removal process time may also differ depending on the site’s policy and your region.
  4. Finally, go to the opt-out page and submit your opt-out request. You may need to consult the site’s FAQ page or our Spokeo opt-out guide — if you are using Spokeo — to ensure you do it correctly. Some sites may require you to verify your identity. They may send you a confirmation link or request a copy of your ID. You should not send a copy of your identifying documents because doing so may put your details at risk if your email account is compromised. If the site does ask for your ID, repeat your removal request or contact the site by email and ask for an alternative way to verify your identity without disclosing your details. After that, these sites should offer an alternative way of verifying your identity and remove your data.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 to submit opt-out requests for every people-search site with your data.

Why should I remove my information from people-finder sites?

People-search sites pose serious privacy and digital security risks. The following reasons are why you should remove your information from people-search sites.

Targeted attacks

Cybercriminals may use the data available on people-search sites to launch targeted attacks. With information from people-search websites, criminals can use social engineering tactics to scam you or your loved ones. The data scraped from social media sites can enable cybercriminals to compose a trustworthy-looking email tailored specifically to you or people close to you. The receiver may download an attachment containing malware or send money to scammers asking for a loan. Moreover, if your identification number, Social Security number, or driver’s license information is available on data broker sites, it may lead to identity theft.

Digital footprint

Removing your data from people-search sites also keeps your digital footprint clean. Your digital footprint is the traceable data your online presence and activity leaves. It is the base for targeted ads and may lead to tailored cyberattacks. Your online presence will always leave traceable data, but it is better if you control it.

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How can I keep my personal information private online?

People-search sites continuously collect data from social media and public records websites. If your information remains on your social media profiles and other publicly available sources, you will have to repeat the removal process in a couple of weeks or months. Here are some tips on how to keep your personal information private online.

Do periodic searches

Periodically search for your details via search engines. Search results will reveal if people-search sites have your information again.

Review your social media accounts

You should review your social media accounts’ privacy settings. People-search sites will scrape these details if you share your phone number, marital status, home address, email address, or other information they typically scrape for. Also, be careful what you share if your account is public. An everyday post may give out information you want to keep private. Take a look at our tips on how to keep your social media profiles safe.

Be aware of what you share

Be careful of what you share online on public forums and similar platforms. As with social media, seemingly innocuous posts can offer criminals information that make their efforts easier. For example, even indicating where you work could serve as useful information for a hacker intending to perform an attack or attempt fraud. So rethink what you share and who can see it.

Erase yourself from the internet

Another way to reduce the risks posed by having an online presence is to erase yourself from the internet. It may seem like an extreme step to take, but it means you eliminate your digital footprint. In turn, people-search sites will have nothing to scrape. If that’s your choice, you can use our guide on how to delete yourself from the internet.

Use a personal data removal tool

You can also use personal data removal tools like Incogni. Incogni sends information removal requests to 180+ data brokers. This tool helps you save significant time in your efforts to keep your information private. Consider the Incogni-NordVPN bundle deal to up your privacy game even more.

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