How to Remove Your Personal Information from
Protect Your Internet Privacy
by SJ Johnson
One of my friends just became a victim of identity theft. As she was
investigating, to figure out how it happened, she discovered that her personal information is available online. Spokeo.com lists her age, home address (with an aerial view), home value, relatives' names and ages. For a few dollars, anyone could purchase her date of birth from Intelius.com. When I heard this, I was horrified. I had no idea this information is available online. With the threat of identity theft always looming, why would companies supply criminals with the very tools they need to steal our identities? Most people have no idea how much of their personal information is floating around the Internet. Do you know what
information is online about you?
How to Find Out About Your Online Profile
Perform an online search of your name. Type your name and state into the major search engines: Yahoo, Google, and Bing. Each search engine will return different results. Also, check these online information brokers: Spokeo.com, Pipl.com, Intelius.com, Zabasearch.com, BirthDetails.com, and USAPeopleSearch.com.
How to Remove Your Personal Information
Privacy Rights.org, a non-profit consumer rights and education organization, provides a list of online information brokers and ways to remove your profile from their websites. Some sites make it easy to remove your personal profile, while others require you to submit additional information about yourself-such as a copy of your driver's license or utility bill.
Spokeo.com, BirthDetails.com, and Intelius.com
Spokeo.com makes it easy for you to remove your profile. All you have to do is click on the Privacy link at the bottom of your profile page, and fill out the form. Make sure to cut and paste the URL from the page where your profile is displayed. This should immediately remove your profile. For BirthDetails.com, you have to send an email to Remove@birthdetails.com with your full name and zip code. Expect to wait approximately one week for Birthdetails.com to update their records. Intelius.com requires you to fax a copy of your driver's license to them. They allow you to cross out your driver's license number and photo, but they want to see your name, date of birth, and address. Processing takes approximately 4-6 weeks.
Pipl.com, USAPeopleSearch.com, and ZabaSearch.com
These people search engines aggregate all the online information that is available about you. You may not be able to remove your information from these websites because they rely on public records, such as property records, deeds, voter's registration, birth and death certificates. The best solution is
to find the source of their information and remove your profile from there. Pipl.com compiles information from "deep web searches." That basically means that they gather information about you from other sources on the web, including Intelius.com, Spokeo.com, Birthdetails.com, and Facebook. Pipl.com should automatically update their records once you remove your profile from the other sites. The same is true of Zabasearch.com and USAPeopleSearch.com. Zabasearch.com explains their policy here.
How to Prevent Additional Information from Appearing Online
The best way to prevent these sites from getting more information about you is to avoid putting your life on the Internet, especially Facebook. With the help of Facebook, identity thieves can find out exactly where you live, your birthday, and your children's names and ages. This gives them a full picture of who you are. Even with this very limited information about you, they can purchase your social security number, date of birth, and mother's maiden name from any of the many people search engines. Once you have removed your online profile, that doesn't mean it will not reappear again on the same site or another site. Unfortunately, you must continually monitor your online profile. The Federal Trade Commission is currently tackling the issue of online privacy. For more information about the FTC, click here.
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