Not that long ago, one of the most revolutionary examples of privacy protection was the ability to hide your phone number when you made calls. Knowing that the word “unavailable” was popping up on the other side of the line was both satisfying and comforting. Now that same idea of a abused by spam callers, eager to steal information from the identified target. Ever had to retire an email, or even a phone number, due to the constant onslaught of targeted spam? How did this malicious robot or human get your contact information?
As we explore the digital landscape of today, with social media companies using cookies to track our every Internet move, it’s apparent that many Americans are now okay with having their data spread out and shared with strangers. This new shift in thinking led to the rise in “people finder” sites, including one of the largest, Spokeo.
How Spokeo dominated the internet peoplefinders
Spokeo had humble beginnings, but it was created by some of the most powerful minds at Stanford. Harrison Tang, Eric Liang, Ray Chen, and Mike Daly created the site and technology, originally used to take social media results and aggregate them.
Like many big ideas, this one was developed in a basement. A 2006 launch brought in an early round of investment from an angel, and that was enough to set Spokeo on the path to where it is today.
From social media aggregation to information gathering, Spokeo leads the pack
Since Spokeo’s launch, the site has evolved significantly. Today, it’s a one-stop shop for finding out where people live, who their relatives are, and even if they’ve been arrested or divorced.
The fun-hearted nature of social media aggregation has turned into an information gathering operation, as everyone from parents of teenage runaways to people simply curious about their lineage use Spokeo to track down the data they need. This makes a Spokeo opt-out very important.
In a separate but important development in the world of online privacy, the European Union recently passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets strict rules on how data is erased, collected, and processed. Many experts say this regulation was a direct response to the public’s slow-building anger at having their data “held hostage” by any number of websites they may or may not visit again.
While revolutionary at the time, the rule raised an interesting question: Can you remove yourself from the internet? With an opt-out from Spokeo, it’s a start.
Before moving forward, it’s important to know that everything Spokeo is doing is legal. The information gathered on Spokeo is available to the public, via court records, phone directories, and even social media.
While it may feel like the information is private, to an entrepreneurial individual with plenty of time on their hands, the data is out there for the taking.
Choosing a reputation management firm for your Spokeo opt-out
Despite being comfortable with having your data just a few button strokes or clicks away, there are significant downsides to leaving your quasi-private information on Spokeo or other people finder sites. If you’re a person who fled from an abusive ex, for instance, Spokeo can deliver your address and other information to that angry ex on a platter.
The same goes for people who don’t want to share where they’ve lived, who they’ve married, and how to get in contact. You can follow these steps to manage your reputation and have your information removed, but a simpler way to do this is hire a reputation management firm do your Spokeo opt-out. A reputation management firm works faster and takes a more comprehensive approach, so you’re not just endlessly visiting websites, going step by step, and tracking if your information was removed.
If you’re still determined to remove your Spokeo info on your own, Good luck. Here are the steps:
How to conduct a Spokeo opt-out
One important bit of advice in removing info from Spokeo and other people finder sites: Don’t use your regular email address or phone number. To have your information deleted from public view, you’ll need to give an email address and possibly a phone number to get through the steps. Use a google voice number and a new email address instead. Once you have that email address, here’s what to do.
1. Start at the Spokeo home page. Enter your name, regular phone number, regular email address or physical address in the search box. Click on SEARCH NOW.
2. A number of records will come up, sometimes in the thousands. You can refine your search by age, state, and other info by using the All Filters button on the right-hand side. Once you’ve found your own record, it’s time to move to the next step.
3. Click on your record and you’ll be taken to a page that shows your info — some of it blurred out. Copy the URL for this page.
4. In another window or tab, open up this web address: https://www.spokeo.com/optout. Paste the URL for your record into the box that says “Enter URL here.”
5. In the next box, enter the email address you’ll be using to confirm your request. Remember: Don’t use your regular email address, create and use a secondary one.
6. Click on the captcha box that verifies that you’re not a robot.
7. Then click on the button that says REMOVE THIS LISTING
8. Check your email. You should have received a message that includes a link to your record, and a link to click on to complete the removal process. Click on the second link.
9. If you’ve done everything right, you’ll be taken back to the opt-out page and it will have a green message on top that says your request has been received and the information will be removed in 2-3 days.
Why removing your info from Spokeo is just the first step
To truly disappear from people finder sites, you’ll need to spend significant time managing your reputation. You must take what you’ve done at Spokeo by opting out and multiply that across a number of people finder sites. New people finder sites pop up all the time, so you’ll need to track those as well.
This process can be time-consuming and it requires discipline and organization to succeed. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional reputation management company to do all the hard work for you.
With a reputation management company that removes your information, you get all the results without any of the drudgery and repetition. Deleting yourself from the internet and finishing a Spoke opt-out is much more time-intensive than it seems, and a reputation management company can deliver results quickly, easily, and without all the headache.
Use the Status Labs removal service
If you just don’t have the time to remove your personal records — phone number, age, name, email, or even other info — or it’s just too difficult to have your information deleted, try our data security removal service. This service was specifically created to help when data aggregators have access to your personal information and don’t make it easy to have it removed. This annual service allows you to:
- Have your personal data removed from the most common aggregators and data brokers — 25 sites.
- Conduct a scan made just for you to remove court records from legal and courtroom websites that include Justia.com, Casetext, and Law360.com.
- Conduct a custom scan used to manually delete and remove info from more than 80 sites and data brokers with a reputation of making it very difficult to have all your information removed.
- Scan and search the dark web for personal and private details you want removed. Criminals often use the dark web to sell and traffic your personal details and info.
Try our annual service (12 scans per year) or our quarterly service (four scans per year).