Personal data may be the world’s most valuable currency. Data aggregator sites such as Spokeo, Whitepages, Radaris, Intelius, etc., have made a business of collecting data online for innocuous use such as background checks and reuniting loved ones. Unfortunately, personal data is also used by hackers, phishers, spammers, scammers, stalkers, and fraudsters, in addition to any altruistic purpose. Removing information from “People Finder” sites is essential in protecting data privacy.
This first step in protecting information such as telephone numbers, addresses, living relatives, and personal interests, is to understand that these companies are operating legally when collecting this data. Data that “feels” private to you in most cases is not and is readily available in public records. Aggregator sites operate with bots that constantly scour the web, compiling all the personal data they can amass into profile reports, which they then in turn make available to purchase. Something that warrants further discussion is who is purchasing this information.
The process of removing, hiding, or unregistering your personal information from aggregator sites will be largely the same steps for the different companies with slight differences between them. To streamline the process you will want to do a few things in preparation.
- Register for a burner/spam gmail account.
- Register for a Google Voice phone number used solely for this purpose and do not link to your actual phone number.
The Data Catch-22: In most cases you will be asked to provide more information than what appears on the site. A good rule of thumb is that when you are scrubbing data from these sites is to not give them any more information than what they already have. Do not give them your real phone number or primary email.
Unregister from Spokeo:
In order to opt-out of Spokeo you first need to find your profile. You can do this from the Spokeo home page. Type your name into the search bar and click search. Once you have found your profile go ahead and click on it. This will bring you to your profile page. Grab your profile URL from the top of the web address bar and then input this into the opt-out form here. At this point also provide your burner email (don’t use your real one) and click the “remove this listing” button.
Now check your account for the confirmation. Follow the link in the confirmation email to verify the opt-out. Once the process is complete (2-3 days) you should get another email. If the listing is still there after three days contact their customer service directly here using the same profile URL that was originally inputed in the opt-out form.
Unregister from Intelius
The process of unregistering from Intelius is very similar to Spokeo and the form can be difficult to find. Go directly to the Intelius opt-out form here. Input your information into the search bar and locate your profile that matches your information. Verify that this is the profile that you want removed, provide your burner email address and complete the Captcha. Check your email and follow the confirmation link. Again, if the information i not removed within 7 days, contact Intelius directly here.
Unregister from Radaris
The process for unregistering for Radaris is similar to both Spokeo and Intelius. Follow these instructions as specified by the opt-out page on the Radaris website:
- Search for a name.
- On the search results page, select the name that is most appropriate.
- On the profile page, click the down-arrow to the right of the name and select “Control Information”.
- From the information control page, choose “Remove information”.
- Here you can choose to remove all information, or to delete specific records.
At this point you will be prompted to enter both an email account and phone number. If they do not accept your Google voice number do not enter your primary contact number. At this point contact Radaris customer service.
Remove your name, address, phone number from White Pages
- Enter the white pages web site in your browser: https://www.whitepages.com/
- From there enter your full name and city into the search bars
- Once you’ve found your listing click on the profile.
- This will take you to your profile page. Grab the URL which should resemble: https://www.whitepages.com/name/Your-Name/Your-City/
- Now go to the opt out form here: https://www.whitepages.com/suppression_requests
- Paste your unique URL into the opt-out form and click “opt-out.
The process of unregistering from people finder sites is very similar and once you get the hang of doing it a few times, it should be easy to unregister from further sites such as AnyWho, ZabaSearch, Peeplo, SwitchBoard, 411, Pipl, PeekYou, MyLife, PeopleFinders, and PeopleSmart
Although it may feel like whack-a-mole removing information from every site out there, focusing on the top sites will limit the accessibility of you personal data. Remember, do not provide any further information to these sites than what they already have, use burner accounts and be sure to check back to ensure that the information is indeed deleted after a few days. Contact customer support and keep records of your interactions. Protecting your personal data in 2019 is not only important, but essential.