Selling your personal information found in public places is big business. The dozens of public data mining sites gladly take a few bucks from Tom, Dick and any Harry to reveal your personal details that otherwise would be a lot tougher for someone with bad intentions to gain access to.
Try searching for yourself on any number of these sites that take your life super public and you’ll likely see your home address, date of birth, relatives and their addresses, and personal email addresses. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg within the free results. Pay a few dollars and now anyone can get your complete life history.
Surprisingly, there is something you can do about it. While in many cases, you have no legal right and there remains no federal laws or regulations protecting you, a vast majority of the public data mining sites offer the ability for you to opt-out. Their motivation is likely a PR move to fend off regulation.
Some of the data mining sites make it easy to remove yourself where as others are a royal pain in the rear end. That’s why services have popped-up that will remove your personal details for you rather than the DIY method that can be tedious and time consuming.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DELETE YOURSELF
1) Decide whether you want to DIY Delete or use one of several deleting services
2) Each public data mining site is different in their opt-out policy. Some easier than others.
3) A drivers license, letter from a notary proving you are you, and sometimes a police report are asked to be presented
4) Understand the law. There is none unless you live in California or the public data mining site is part of a Credit Reporting service where fair credit act kicks in.
5) You need a lot of time and patience.
Individual Public data broker sites opt-out pages vary in degree of difficulty to opt-out of having your personal info available to the world. For example, Lexis-Nexis and affiliated public data mining sites make it tough to opt-out by requiring documentation proving harm such as a police report substantiating identity theft, under threat of death or serious bodily harm.
BEST DO-IT-YOURSELF DELETE GUIDE
One of the best guides for DIY Removal of Your Personal info from Public Data sites list: https://www.abine.com/optouts.php
BEST REMOVAL SERVICE
DeleteMe service cost $99-129/year. They do the deleting of you personal info from public data mining sites and send a you a report every 3 months. Hands down it’s the best I’ve tried.
And while this service along with others are very effective at removing your personal information, there is something that inherently bugs me about having to pay to win back some privacy and restore some security. And if the data brokers are going to profit off of your personal details in this intrusively hyper public way, then why shouldn’t we demand a cut of the profits since without you, they would have nothing to sell.
Kurt the CyberGuy is an award-winning journalist, investor and innovator who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better. Our reports contain affiliate links that earn us a commission when a reader buys independently selected gadgets and gear within our articles. This supports our work investigating technology. More about our policies are here.
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