Hey Indiana: Here’s How to Remove Your Personal Info from People Finder Sites
Information is abundant and anything you want to learn is literally at your fingertips thanks to computers and smartphones. Have a burning question? Just ask Google. But when it comes to your personal information, you may not want that information readily available to just anyone.
Keeping It Personal
I am a firm believer that some things don't necessarily need to be public knowledge, like, for example, my cell phone number or my address. These are pieces of information that I consider to be under the category of "need to know." If you "need to know" then I have already given you that information and if I haven't personally given it to you, then you probably don't need to know.
Managing Personal Information
A nasty car accident more than a decade ago left me off work for nearly three months. During that time, I struggled to pay my bills while still providing basic necessities like food and shelter for me and my then 10-year-old daughter. I had a credit score of over 740, but my inability to pay my bills caused my credit to tank, and ultimately resulted in the need to file for bankruptcy. Since then, I have monitored my credit closely as I have worked to rebuild it. I use apps and websites like Credit Karma and Experian to watch for changes in my score.
my personal information like my address and phone number has recently shown up on not one or two but nine different "people finder" sites.
(This is not sponsored in any way. This is just me sharing how I track my credit.) With Experian, not only can I track my credit score for free, but it has a number of other features as well. It's one of those added features that alerted me to the fact that my personal information like my address and phone number has recently shown up on not one or two but nine different "people finder" sites. You know the ones - they show you a person's name, all known addresses past and present, phone number, and even other people and family members associated with that name.
Clearing Your Name
When I found out my information was on these sites, I immediately began to wonder if this is the reason that my phone has suddenly been blowing up with spam calls the last several weeks. I have literally been getting one to three calls a day, every day that my phone flags as spam or telemarketer, despite being on the National Do Not Call registry. While I can't be sure the two things are related, I have a strong suspicion that they just might be. This left me searching for how to remove my name and personal information from these "people finder" sites.
What's On These Sites
These sites, which collect and sell data, sometimes have far more than just your name, address, and phone number. They can also make it easier for unscrupulous identify thieves to find an easy target. According to Experian, they may even have information you wouldn't expect.
Anyone can search these sites for a name, address or phone number and request a detailed report with a laundry list of data you might not expect to be readily accessible. These include court records, previous roommates, a child's age and even social media handles.
How to Remove Your Info
So how do you go about getting your information removed from these sites? Experian warns that it may not be easy and may even take quite a bit of time to remove your information from these sites. There are services you can pay for that will do this for you but you can also do it yourself. First, find out where your information is being shared. A quick Google search of your name, in quotation marks (like this: "Your Name") followed by the city and state will bring up any sites where that search hits. You can then visit each of those sites, find the opt-out page, and follow the necessary steps there to have your information removed. Once you're done, you will want to move to the next site where your information is available and do the same thing. Again, it's time intensive and tedious, but it is definitely a good idea to manage who has access to your personal information.