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How to Remove Private Personal Information from the Internet

Now that the Facebook privacy firestorm [3] has, for the most part, eased up a bit, people seem to be a little more concerned about internet privacy. The scary thing is that of all the things that should worry you, Facebook probably has the least amount of information about it. When it comes to personal information, who your friends are, what your hobbies are, and how many hours you spend on Farmville are the icing on the cake. The cake itself is made up of your actual personal details (name, address, age, social security, emails), your purchasing behavior (where you shop, when, and what you buy), your borrowing behavior (loans, credit cards), and other juicy bits.

You can buy a lot of that data from data brokers and marketers. For example, through the Ameridex Information Systems Nationwide Index you can find someone’s address and date of birth through a search that requires only a first and last name (it’s more accurate if you have DOB and or city/state/ZIP) for $1.95 cents each. They also have a Death Index that lets you search for death certificates that will return their name, social, DOB, date of death, state of issue and state of death for $1.95. If you have a bunch of SSNs to process, they cost a nickel or less and the results are available online through an Excel file.

And that’s just the beginning…

I was alerted to this massive list of data brokers by “Bob Smith” who wrote:

Below is a link to a current and extensive list of data brokers, marketers, online directories along with information on how to opt out of them. It would be interesting to see an article about privacy along with massive amount of data companies have about individuals. I found this list while surfing online and I can say that this is the most extensive and current list of databases and how to opt out of them.

link [4]

Data Brokers

The links below go directly to the removal page, if it exists, or just to the terms & conditions where opt-out instructions are included. If you search for “opt,” you will usually find details.

Marketers, Direct Mail

Many of these companies are in the direct mail marketing business (think: those blue Valpak envelopes) and removing your information may also mean a big reduction in junk mail.

People Directories

The sites on this list are those 411/People Search type of directories where you can look someone up. In most cases, you will need to do a search on yourself and find your result. Then, look for a “Is this you? Remove your listing” link and click that for further details.

Social Networks & Data Aggregators

These are sites that search social networks and aggregate that information in one place.

General Marketing Opt Outs

These are the more well known online, offline, and telephone opt-out mechanisms.

Some of the places require you to fax in a written request, for that might I recommend these free online fax resources [72].

I’ve checked all the links and confirm that they are pointed to the right page, if that should change in the future, let me know and I’ll fix the links. Thanks!

(Photo: pong [73])