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 Spokeo. After 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…
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.
- (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.
- (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.)
- (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.
- (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.
- (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.
- (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:
- (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!