About a month ago I was got a phone call from Target asking me if I was trying to open up another Target Card in St. Paul. This was after I had gotten an email from Experian Credit Monitoring the night before informing me about an application for a Macy's card. It's that sinking feeling, knowing that my identity had been stolen. The perpetrator had my SSN #, Drivers License #, address, birth date, and an email address similar to an old email address I had used years ago. It was at this moment, after going through all the freeze alerts, going to our banks and checking those accounts, that I decided to get as much information about myself off the internet.

We've always been careful with our personal information. We shred everything, throwing out some of the paper shreds, using the rest to start recreational fires in our backyard. It was a co-worker who clued me in on how to get my information removed from these people finder sites that seem to have lots of personal information people who pay can get.

Image Credit: Peoplefinder.com
Image Credit: Peoplefinder.com

While you probably just saw the above picture, I'm ok with it as they have plenty of information wrong listed and if you blink going through Montgomery you'll miss it. My guess is this is maybe the information gathered from the credit card applications.

Some of these people finder websites like Spokeo or Peoplefinder.com pay for some information from various sources like warranty and sweepstakes registrations, but a majority of the information they have on you comes from court documents and other public or government records. One way you might think will reduce your online information, would be scaling back on social media. Social media according to How-To-Geek.com reflects only a tiny percentage of the data these companies collect about you.

Here is what you can do to scrub yourself from these websites;

  • Manually delete yourself from the websites in question. Some sites might have a link for removing personal information, other pages are more...complicated and in some cases cost money. Spokeo is, perhaps, the simplest. You just find your profile page on the site, go to spokeo.com/optout, and then type (or paste) the link along with your email address so you can confirm.
  • Stay on top of these websites after you opt-out. Every time you move, change your number, have a major life event you start the data collection again for these pages. It sucks but by staying on top of it, you limit your information online.
    • Not wanting to deal with doing it yourself? Pay to have a company remove you from these websites. It can cost between $130 to $1,000 depending on who you go with, and what 'package' you purchase.

While this isn't a foolproof way to stay off these sites forever, as our personal info will likely reappear on these sites as they acquire new info about you, it is a practical thing you can do to limit what information there is about you.

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