Data brokers are companies that collect your personal information and resell it to other companies for marketing purposes. They aggregate information from a variety of sources to develop individual profiles. These sources include:
- Public Records – Property records, court records, voter databases, licensure records, census data, birth certificates, etc.
- Commercial Sources – Purchase history, loyalty programs, etc.
- Online Sources – Websites, social media sites, web browsing activity, etc.
Data brokers use these databases for marketing purposes, for data products (such as identification verification services), and to populate online people search websites.
Table of Contents
- The Problem
- How to Remove Yourself from People Search Sites
- Other Marketing Opt Outs
- Removing Yourself from Google and Bing
To see the problem with data brokers, most people need only search for themselves online. It’s probably best to use Google for this exercise.
If you haven’t gone through this process before, you likely see a mix of results that includes data brokers. You might be surprised to see websites publishing your name, your email address, your phone number, your address, your past addresses, employers, your family members, and other details.
Beyond what is published online, these companies aggregate data behind the scenes and likely have more information beyond what they reveal online.
How to Remove Yourself from People Search Sites
There are dozens of people search websites. Removing yourself from all of them can take a considerable amount of time, so plan on spending a fair amount of time on this. Moreover, new sites are popping up all the time, so you will likely want to check back on this annually.
Before You Remove Yourself from People Search Sites
You should set up a temporary (burner) email to avoid exposing your actual email address. People search websites aren’t very reputable, so you should take care to minimize the data that you give them. For this purpose, an email from a mainstream provider might be the best choice to avoid being flagged. You can also potentially use various email alias services, but some sites may block them.
You may also need a phone number for some sites, you should use a secondary phone number from a voice over IP (VOIP) provider to avoid giving more information.
Finally, some sites may ask for a copy of your driver’s license or another form of identification to opt-out. Submit a photo of your ID with as much information as possible (photo, license numbers, address, etc) removed.
High Priority Opt-Outs
The following sites tend to be quite visible and/or the information trickles through to other sites. The links in the list below go to the site’s opt-out pages (current as of 11/10/21).
- Lexis Nexis
- US Search
This site publishes your voter registration information. On each individual page, there is an opt-out link on the lower right corner in the website footer.
Additional People Search Websites
Beyond the sites above, there are other people search websites that you should remove yourself from. You should start with any that are showing your information when you do a web search.
After that, you can start checking other sites. The company OneRep lists 112 people search websites along with instructions on how to remove yourself.
Generally, it is best to remove yourself these sites yourself. However, if you don’t have time, the service DeleteMe can remove your from several sites.
Other Marketing Opt Outs
Beyond people search websites, it is also worth opting out on the following marketing sites.
This site allows you to opt-out of credit card offers.
Do Not Call Registry
You can opt-out of telemarketing calls. Of course, not all telemarketers respect this list, but it may reduce the number of calls that you receive.
LexisNexis Opt Opt-Out
Opt-out of the LexisNexis data products.
Opt-out of Oracle Offline Advertising. By opting out, Oracle claims that it will delete online and offline data that it stores about you.
Removing Yourself from Google and Bing
Removing Cached Results from People Search Websites
As you remove yourself from people search websites, you will want to also work to remove these sites from Google and Bing. Both search engines have a process that allows you to remove outdated links. Once you have successfully removed your personal information from a site, you will want to remove the link in Google as the cached copy may still contain your information.
After you have requested removal, you should follow up in a few days to make sure that the content was removed.