It’s pretty scary how easy it is for anyone to find your personal information from just a quick Google search. With just your name and city or state, they can find a lot of your personal details.
Information like your name, age, address, and phone number — as well as information about your relatives or the value of your home — is being publicly displayed on data broker websites like Whitepages.com, BeenVerified.com and Intelius.com.
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Data broker websites make money by searching the internet for personal information and organizing it into detailed “listings” or “reports”.
Then, anyone can find this information for free, or even pay a small fee to learn even more than just the basics like your name or age.
If this scares you, there are a few techniques to help you remove personal information from Google search results altogether.
Understanding Google Search Results
Before you can remove these search results, you must understand that Google is not the source of the information that’s being displayed when a search is performed.
Instead, Google is a tool that is showing you the most relevant links based on the phrase that you searched. To successfully remove search results from Google, you will need to remove the content from the original source website that is posting the information that is Google is displaying on its search results page.
The most common types of search results in these cases typically include social media profiles, news articles, blog articles, and data broker listings:
- Social Media Profiles: When you create an account on a social media website and agree to their Terms of Service, you’re allowing them to display your profile in search results (unless you adjust certain privacy settings). If you don’t want social media profiles in Google search results, you can delete your social media profiles. Usually, if you don’t want your personal information on Google, it’s best to stay off of social media altogether.
- News Articles: If you’ve ever been featured in a news article, this information is likely to be in top search results on Google. Unfortunately, most local news outlets will also regularly publish arrest records; so, if you’ve had a run-in with the law, it may be difficult to remove this information from the source. In most cases, however, you can find the editor or webmaster of that news source and ask them to take down the article.
- Blog Articles: If you’ve started and posted on a blog using your real name, it’s almost surely going to be a top Google search result. Even if you’ve just commented publicly on blog articles using your real name, it will also show up in search results. To remove blog articles, contact the owner of the website and politely ask them to remove anything that’s creating a search result.
- Data Broker Listings: There are countless data brokers online like Whitepages.com, BeenVerified.com, or Intelius.com that all collect your personal information and post it on their website. They find your information from public records, online surveys, mailing lists, social media profiles, and even other data brokers. Plus, new data broker websites are constantly being created all the time, while existing ones are changing their names and moving their website to a new domain. Removing your information from these websites can be extremely inconvenient, since each data broker website has its own unique opt-out process that be difficult to find.
You can use this free DIY guide to go through each data broker website yourself, but this can be an extremely tedious and time consuming task given the sheer number of data broker websites. Luckily, there are professional services like DeleteMe that will remove your personal information from the leading online data broker websites. DeleteMe’s privacy experts are highly trained in privacy policies and opt-out procedures and know how to remove your personal information from these data brokers. Additionally, DeleteMe sends you regular updates about where your information is found online and what they’re doing to remove your information.