Remove Private information from the internet

Every cloud has a silver lining

In How to Remove your Information from the Internet, I showed you how to opt out of InstantCheckMate and if you hadn’t already done so, I suggested you also remove your personal information from SpokeoAfter I successfully opted out of InstantCheckMate, I found vast amounts of my personal information on online WhitePages, even though opting out on InstantCheckMate was supposed to opt me out of WhitePages at the same time. But every cloud has a silver lining and so does this story…

For safety purposes, this is not my house, but I wouldn't mind if it was

It would be great if this was my house, but for safety purposes, it isn’t. Point is, satellite photos linked to our homes on online WhitePages give a lot of detail

On WhitePages, I located my personal profiles that included my birthdate and all the addresses I had ever lived at. Clicking on the neighbor’s tab of my address, I even found a satellite photo of my home that was clear enough for me to see my car parked in my driveway. I found members of my family on my profile as well as other accurate information that was not anyone else’s business. Needless to say, I was unnerved.

It took me a while but I eventually figured out how to remove all of the “offending” information. Getting back to that silver lining… WhitePages allows you to opt out completely so none of your information shows, or, it allows you to select which information you want to hide and which information you want to keep visible. For example, you probably don’t want your home address to show but you likely want your business phone number and address to be available. With this in mind, I suggest that you do not impulsively remove all your information, even though this is an available option.

PEP TALK: Screenshots make this simple article seem long so don’t be discouraged because you mistakenly think this will be a complicated or lengthy process. It’s easy so let’s get to it!

  • (1) Click here to go to WhitePages.com. (It will open in another window so you can toggle back and forth to this article.)
  • (2) When the search box opens, enter your name, city and state and begin your search by clicking on the orange magnifying glass. NOTE: Throughout the article I will use screenshots from my personal searches, but I will block out unnecessary personal details.
personal information search

Begin your search

  • (3) At this point, one of 3 things will happen:

ONE: You will recognize one or more records belonging to you. You will need to deal with each record separately so follow the same steps for each record, one at a time.

TWO: You do not recognize any search results after entering your current name and address. In this case, vary the search information (former address, maiden names etc) until you locate data belonging to you. Odds are, you’ll find something. If yes, follow all the steps for each result you locate that belongs to you. If you still find nothing, keep reading.

THREE: You do not locate any information on yourself. Perhaps you previously unsubscribed or maybe there just isn’t any data on you. Regardless of the reason, if you can’t find it here, neither will anyone else. Be happy and your work is done here today.

My personal search returned multiple profiles belonging to me. I removed them immediately and below is the remaining information I’ve chosen to allow.

Find your information in order to remove it

Identify which profile is yours out of the selection yielded by your search

  • (4) Once you locate your information, click on the search results to explore. Stay calm as you review all related links. (Home or work address, neighbors, email, people you may know, phone numbers, public records etc.)

    Search for your data on whitepages.com

    I’ve blocked out my address for obvious reasons, but clicking on this data yields more personal information.

  • (5) After verifying the profile that comes up is yours, click on the wheel to see a drop-down menu. Then claim your profile in order to change your settings.
claim your profile on whitepages.com

Clicking the options wheel reveals a drop-down menu

  • (6) Since this is about claiming your privacy, I highly recommend that you do not do this via Facebook. Instead, take the time to create a unique account for yourself on WhitePages by going directly to this link, Create a WhitePages Account.
Create a new account

Create a brand new account for yourself rather than signing in via Facebook

  • (7) Once you have your account, verify it by following the directions in the email that you receive.
  • (8) Now you are ready to edit your profile at any time and as often as you want.
whitepges.com

Select which information you’ll allow to be seen publicly.

  • (9) Enter your account to hide and show the information you choose. You can customize your preferences by editing most of the settings. See part of my profile below:
whitepages.com profile

My personal and verified whitepages.com profile.

  • (10) Now you can add or remove missing contact information. Perhaps you want to add a physical work or email address or even a work telephone number? Repeat these steps as often as it takes to review and edit all results belonging to you. You can immediately delete results you don’t want others to see or you can add new results to your existing profile by claiming each profile that belongs to you by adding them to your account. Then you may choose to show or hide that information.

Along the way, you may encounter an opportunity to rectify incorrect information such as people listed as living at your address who no longer reside there. In some cases you can take care of this on the spot. In other cases, WhitePages may need to investigate further before removing the information.

I hope you feel as much relief as I did after completing this process. If you have a private question, feel free to email me. If you run into any difficulties as you go through each step, feel free to leave details or questions in a comment and I will follow up  soon as possible. Sharing your experience and concerns will also allow me to make updates to this article which may in turn help others. Like raising children, maintaining our privacy takes a village – my hope is that we can lead safer and more private lives by helping each other along the way.

Until next time, … Stay Cyber Safe!

15 Responses to How to Remove your Private Information from Online WhitePages

  1. Zada says:

    This is not working for me. Am I missing smth?? I don’t see the ‘wheel’ you’re talking about, and was not able to hide my age, even after creating an account with White Pages. Please help. Thanks.

    • Happy to help, Zada. Look at the diagram below step 4. The “wheel” is in a rectangle with an arrow pointing at it. It is also in step 5 in a purple rectangle.

      Follow the directions from there and if you still have a problem, email me your phone number and I’ll call you from a blocked phone number and will walk you through the process.

      It is my recommendation that you hide the entire profile (Step 9 – bottom right hand corner of diagram under privacy settings – “HIDE INFORMATION” – rather than only worry about your age – unless it is important for you to have people locate you via whitepages.

      Please let me know if you succeeded.

      Regards, Hayley

      PS. If all else fails, I can be hired to do this for you on about 30 different directories – email me for a quote.
      Hayley Kaplan recently posted…Impact of European Privacy Policy on the United StatesMy Profile

      • Zada says:

        Hello Hayley. Thank you for your helpful instructions! I did Hide my information, but when I searched my name again, my info shows the same. Does it take a few days for that to change? There is another link under my info that says: Sponsored by SmartPeople. Is that another website I need to take care of? Ughh..
        Thanks again!!

        • You are welcome, Zada.

          I’ve found the information gets corrected immediately. What you are probably seeing is Google Cache which takes as short as 8 hours or as long as 60 days to clear. If you click on the search results you locate in Google, hopefully your address etc no longer shows.

          I don’t know about smartpeople but peoplesmart is another site that is worth opting out of. The list goes on … there are many directory sites now. And as long as people are willing to pay for data, more are likely to crop up unfortunately. Urggghhhhh is right!
          Hayley Kaplan recently posted…Impact of European Privacy Policy on the United StatesMy Profile

  2. […] your name, city and state into spokeo.com and whitepages.com and see what comes up. Expect to see your age, relatives, contact information and the addresses of […]

  3. Kim Tronic says:

    Holy moly. I had no idea that this level of personal info was out there. My name, address, phone number, amount of money my parent’s house is worth (WTF??) and previous addresses were listed for everyone to see. Scary.

    After reading through several of these amazing posts, I removed my info from White Pages, Spokeo and Instacheckmate. I also set up Google alerts on myself. I feel SO much more secure knowing these details won’t be listed on these sites. And these awesome step-by-step instructions were clear and super easy to follow. I’m definitely going to share this info with my family & friends. Especially in this day & age where everyone can see everyone’s everything, I think it’s crucial to keep up with privacy & security practices.

    Hayley, thank you for sharing your expertise and giving us some digital peace of mind! :)

  4. Siddiya says:

    Kaplan,

    Thank you for your research and wisdom. I Googled my name and all my personal information came up- was quite devastated.

  5. Jordan says:

    Thank you so much for all this great step by step information!! I love the photos because it makes it so easy. And I can’t believe how mud about us is available online. Why? How is it beneficial to anyone?

    • Good question, Jordan. The information can be used for a multitude of purposes – some appropriate and some not. Here’s an incomplete list that pops into my mind:

      – Realtors that want to list a home (marketing)
      – Marketers that want to sell products or services
      – Stalkers, perverts and sexual predators that want to track someone
      – Thieves that want to use the information in conjunction with other information for identity theft
      – Gossipy or curious people who want to know private information about others for no particular reason other than gossip or curiosity
      – Blackmailers (as suggested by the letter I received from one of the services about using DUI info to blackmail someone)
      – Daters who want to know more about potential dates (safety or greed) before meeting
      – Parents that want to do background checks on caretakers for their kids
      – Employers that want to know about potential employees before hiring them

      … and I’m sure the list goes on.

  6. Great information! With personal information at a higher risk then ever before, it’s so important to be aware of what you click on or what newsletters you subscribe to. Great post! Thanks a lot!
    Identity Theft recently posted…Protecting Your IdentityMy Profile

  7. This is very helpful, thank you for sharing.

  8. rachel says:

    Great post! So helpful! I am following ALL of your steps Hayley!

  9. Tanya says:

    Great article! Very helpful and very easy to follow. Thanks!

  10. Stephanie Scott says:

    Great article! You always provide valuable information! Thanks for spreading the word!

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