Face it: What you do online isn’t private. Even if you’re browsing in good ol’ incognito mode, you’re still not anonymous. Incognito mode does have handy uses like keeping certain searches out of your autofill and suggestions. Tap or click here for my favorite insider secrets to getting the most out of private browsing.
What about all the info you willingly post, like photos of you and your family to social media? I bet you’re sharing more than you know. Here are the six common mistakes everyone makes on social media.
Then there’s the data about you gathered, packed, and offered to the highest bidder. If you care about your online privacy, deleting yourself from the sites below is a great place to start.
Data brokering websites don’t make it easy
People search sites build profiles based on public info scraped from across the internet. These profiles often contain sensitive data like phone numbers and addresses — and scam callers and mail spammers rely on these websites to scout prospects.
You might be thinking, “Is this legal?” Data brokers get away with it by giving people a chance to opt-out. Unfortunately, this is usually easier said than done. Prepare to jump through some hoops.
Two of the most prominent people search sites are Intelius, which owns multiple data brokering websites, and BeenVerified. If you are short on time, remove yourself from these two. If you have more time, keep scrolling to see the rest and complete those steps.
Intelius: It owns the larger people search sites like Classmates.com, iSearch, ZabaSearch, Peoplelookup, PublicRecords, and many others. Previously, you had to fax your driver’s license to remove yourself, but the process recently has become much easier.
Fortunately, if you remove yourself from Intelius, you remove yourself from the sites it controls.
- To get started, click on this link and enter your name and email address.
- When you find your records, click Select and Continue.
- On the next page, enter your email address to confirm your identity and fill in the CAPTCHA code. Then, click Continue.
- Open your email and look for a message from the sender Intelius. Click the link inside to continue. The link will expire after 24 hours. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam folder.
- You will receive a confirmation email with a reference number once the process is complete. It can take up to 72 hours for the opt-out to fully process.
- After 72 hours have passed, look yourself up again on Intelius. If your information is still showing after you got your confirmation, send an email to CUSTSERV@intelius.com and include the confirmation number you received.
BeenVerified: This site is a major hub for people searches and probably contains a significant amount of information about you. This data includes your full name, phone number and street address. To remove your information, follow these steps:
- Tap or click here to visit BeenVerified’s opt-out page and search via first name, last name and state.
- Click the green “Search” button. On the results page, you can filter by city and age if you don’t see yourself.
- When you find your listing, click to select it.
- On the Opt-out request page that opens, enter your email address and check the blue optional checkbox. Fill out the required fields and verify the captcha to prove you’re not automated. Then, click the green “Send Verification Email” box.
- Check your inbox and look for an email from the sender Privacy with the subject [BeenVerified] Opt-Out Verification.
- Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page. Removal won’t be immediate, however, so expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.
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InstantCheckmate: InstantCheckmate makes it easier than many other people search websites to remove your info. Fill out the form at the top of the page, select the records you wish to remove and follow the instructions that appear on-screen. The process can take up to 48 hours after opting out.
MyLife: To opt out of MyLife, you must make a phone call. You may be asked to register for the site to claim your data, which is normal. Just make sure not to buy anything the representative or site is pitching.
Call (888) 704-1900 and press 2 to begin the opt-out process. Once you've confirmed your identity, let the agent know you wish to have your profile removed. Ask them to remove you from Wink.com since MyLife owns that site.
Expect a follow-up email from Pipl asking you to confirm your identity. This process can take several days.
Spokeo: Like Pipl, Spokeo has a dedicated page for opting out. Search for your profile on the site and copy the URL into the opt-out form to successfully process it.
Apollo.io: To remove yourself, tap or click this link. From there, enter your email address and your apollo.io profile URL to start the process.
White Pages: As with Spokeo, you’ll need to locate your profile using the search bar at the top of the website and paste the URL into the box on this page. You should also tap or click here to submit a support request to have your information removed. Choose I need to remove or edit a listing from the dropdown.
In your request, ask that your info is also removed from White Pages Premium. Sometimes removed listings only disappear from the basic White Pages unless you specify.
ZoomInfo: ZoomInfo has a specific page for opting out that requires you to fill out a form. Tap or click here to visit the page and provide your email address to begin the opt-out process. You should receive an email from ZoomInfo in your inbox with a code. Click the link in the email, type in the code it included and follow the on-screen instructions to opt-out.
This process, thankfully, only takes a few minutes — and you won’t have to wait several days for your data to vanish.
Next, stop data brokering sites from grabbing your data
Data brokers grab publicly available data. You can’t do anything about public records, but you can lock down your privacy settings on the websites you frequently visit.
Your next big target is to stop Google from tracking you online. Here’s how to stop Google from profiling and tracking you.
Need help? Get concrete answers from me, along with other tech pros for 30 days for free. Sign up at GetKim.com, no promo code required.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.