The internet contains a wealth of useful information. From in-depth videos on how to unblock a garbage disposal to tips for getting over a toxic ex, there is nothing we can’t find online. It’s also a useful place if you are searching for someone.
Data broker sites like Whitepages, Intelius, and MyLife are a rich source of facts and information. They all provide tons of data that’s harvested from publicly accessible databases. Users can search the sites for information on individuals such as old friends and potential dates.
This is all well and good, but you might not want your personal information a mere click away from anyone looking to find out more about you. It isn’t just the curious and bored who go searching on these sites; they are a goldmine for scammers and other nefarious individuals hoping to build a more complete picture of you and your life.
It is possible to remove personal information from the main data broker sites. The more reputable ones such as Nuwber make it relatively easy, but for some of them, you have to work pretty hard to get your info wiped.
Let’s take a look at the three main sites to see how you can opt-out.
MyLife doesn’t have the best reputation and back in 2011, it was labeled as a ‘scam’ site for charging users money to find out who had been searching for them. If you want to remove your personal information from MyLife, you will need to create a profile. Once you have done this, email or write to the site or call the customer service team. It can take up to 10 days to process requests, but you will receive a confirmation number once that data has been removed.
To remove personal data from Whitepages, collect a list of all the URLs on the site for listings that contain your information. Whitepages has an opt-out form that you can use to remove data from the site. Paste the URLs into the opt-out page and click the button that says “remove me”. Verifications are sent via an automated phone call, but you’ll have to give the site your telephone number. The automated calls contain a confirmation code, which must be entered to complete the removal process.
Intelius also has an opt-out form so users can remove personal information. To find it, click on the privacy section of the site. You will be asked to give Intelius your email address, so a confirmation link can be sent to complete the process.
Most of the main sites have similar protocols for the removal of personal information. The food news is that it’s fairly easy to get the job done, but the bad news is that it can a time-consuming and tedious process.
Paid Data Removal Services
If you don’t want to mess about trawling through hundreds of sites and filling in opt-out forms, it might be worth paying for a removal service to do the job on your behalf. For a fee, there are companies that offer a data monitoring and removal service. However, they only cover the main sites, so there is a risk that your personal information is still out there on less reputable sites.
Always keep a close eye on how much data is published online. Run a quick check on at least one site every month or so. And if you do discover a treasure trove of data, take steps to have it removed before it costs you big-time.