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How To Remove Your Personal Information from Public Websites

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If you've ever searched for someone on the Web, what you usually end up finding is data gleaned from publicly accessible information. Websites that have this data- phone numbers, addresses, land records, marriage records, death records, criminal history, etc. - have collected and consolidated it from dozens of different places and put it in one convenient hub.

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While this information is available online for public access, it's the consolidation of this information in one place that can make people uncomfortable. The most popular people search websites simply use information that is a matter of public record, however, this data used to be somewhat obscured by how difficult it would be for someone to compile this amount of information on someone.

The following websites are not doing anything illegal. This is all public information. Sites that collate this information function as search engines for public data. We all scatter small bits of our personal information all over the place in real life and online, but since it is spread out and requires effort to access, this affords us a certain level of privacy. Aggregating all this information into one place and making it so easily accessible can bring up serious privacy concerns.

In this article, we're going to look at how you can opt out of ten of the most popular background check and people search websites. Note: Removing your data from these websites does not make it inaccessible online; just less easy to access. Someone who knows what they are doing will still be able to find this information, but it will definitely be more difficult to track down. You DO NOT need to pay for your information to be removed. If ID is requested, scan some form of ID (state-issued ID, i.e., a drivers license); this is requested to verify your identity. Be sure to black out your picture and drivers' license number, leaving your name, address and date of birth visible.

1. Radaris

In order to remove your information from Radaris, find the person you're looking for and click the drop-down menu arrow (next to the name). Click "Removal" and then follow these instructions: "If you would like some information NOT to be displayed please check records below (up to 3 records). Please note that Radaris works similarly to search engines. The information you see on Radaris is searched on publicly available sources and it is originated at other resources. Blocking information at Radaris does not remove data from its original sources."

2. Spoke

Spoke has an entire page dedicated to getting information removed from their directory:

"All users can suppress their information by clicking on the “Suppression” link located on the bottom of any Spoke Profile page. Clicking this link takes you to a contact form where you submit the URL of the profile you wish to suppress and provide an email associated with that profile so that we can confirm the suppression request. Once confirmed, the page will be suppressed. Users may also request suppression of their information by submitting a suppression request directly to Spoke by clicking here."

3. USA People Search

Unfortunately, USA People Search does not offer a way to opt out of their directory online; you must fill out this form and mail it to the listed address. However, this form asks you to verify information of a personal nature. Another option: write them directly using this contact form:

"If for any reason you are concerned that the Personal Information or Billing Information you provided to us is not correct and you wish to change it, you have the ability to review and update your personal information online by logging into your account at http://www.usa-people-search.com/login.aspx. You can also email us regarding your personal information by using our contact form located at http://www.usa-people-search.com/contact.aspx."

4. White Pages

White Pages provides an oddly worded opt-out instruction:

"In order to stop further collection of information by us, you will need to stop using our products and services."

You can choose to be excluded from third-party inclusion on their site:

"To stop collection of information in connection with the use of our products and services, you will need to stop using them. To stop information collection for purposes of relevant online advertising, click here. To stop collection of browsing information via supporting web browsers, click here. At this time, there is no industry solution to opt-out of receiving relevant mobile advertising."

5. PrivateEye.com

Another one that requires a filled-out form sent in with verification of past addresses:

"We value your privacy and, upon request, can block your records from being shown in many, but not all, of our search results. Unless otherwise required by law, we will only accept opt-out requests directly from the individual whose information is being opted-out and we reserve the right to reject all other opt-out requests. We are unable to remove any information about you from databases operated by third parties. We are not able to block your records from any other web sites, as their databases are not under our control. To have your records removed please fill out the form here."

You can also contact customer service.

6. Intelius

Intelius is one of the most widely-known pay-for-information people search websites online today. As noted previously, all of the information that Intelius and other services listed here is collected from freely accessible public records.

In order to opt-out from Intelius, follow the steps outlined on this page.

7. Acxiom.com

Acxiom gives you several opt-out options, all found on this page:

"Acxiom enables consumers to opt out of our online advertising products and our marketing and directory information products. In addition, Acxiom allows consumers, when appropriate, the ability to access and correct the information found in our directory and fraud detection and prevention information products."

8. Zabasearch

Zabasearch is an extremely popular people search engine, as well as somewhat controversial due to how much information can be found here. In order to opt-out:

"In order for ZabaSearch to "opt out" your public information from being viewable on the ZabaSearch website, we need to verify your identity and require faxed proof of identity. Proof of identity can be a state issued ID card or driver's license. If you are faxing a copy of your driver's license, cross out the photo and the driver's license number. We only need to see the name, address and date of birth. We will only use this information to process your opt out request. Please fax to 425-974-6194 and allow 4 to 6 weeks to process your request."

9. PeekYou

PeekYou offers a simple online form you can fill out in order to get your information removed from their directory, but make sure you read the fine print:

"I understand that removal of information from www.peekyou.com does not constitute removal from the internet, and that my information may still be available on other public websites. As such, I understand that my information may resurface on www.peekyou.com if I do not take steps to limit my privacy settings on other websites and/or remove my information from those websites."

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