Websites that find people using their names or phone numbers rely on public records for information. Such records include, but are not limited to divorce, marriage, court, and bankruptcy records. These sites can even get your personal details from these records: your address, number, or name.
One big step you can take to stop people from finding you is a background check. It can reveal the information available about you online. We discuss other effective steps below.
Check Privacy Policies
A large number of companies will share any data you give them, including over the phone, on paper, or electronically. Ask about their privacy policies before you give away any personal data. You can choose to opt-out of sharing public information. Do not give the company information it doesn’t need. Many businesses will ask for additional information, such as an e-mail address, which they don’t actually require.
Open a P.O. Box
To remove your physical address from public records, you could open and use a P.O. box. This method is effective and simple. It is an easy and effective method of removing your home address from public records.
Don’t Use Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are perhaps the richest sources of personal information. To truly remain anonymous, don’t create profiles on social media. It’s not enough to have a private profile. If you must use a social network, don’t use your real name as the user name. Set your profile to “friends only.” Block search engines by editing your settings.
Removal from Individual Sites
While it’s possible to get your information removed from individual sites, this won’t remove it from every page that has listed your public data. In some cases, you’ll need to consider court-ordered removal. You can also ask Google to remove your information. Some possible issues with this: Google is a search engine, not an original source of data. Its job is to show you the information out there. Moreover, it’s not the only search engine that exists. There are countless engines; Yahoo and Bing are just two of them.
Reputation Management Services
These services work by pushing information you don’t want to be revealed further down the list of search results on search engines. They can’t hide it, but they can make it harder to find.
Prevention is the Best Protection
This principle is not only valid in medicine. The best cure really is prevention, albeit not a 100% effective one. When you put something online, it will stay there for a very long time, if not forever. If it is negative, it will be viewed in a negative light. We don’t have complete control over what goes online. In fact, we have very little. This is why it’s of paramount importance to exercise caution and assume what you put online will be reviewed negatively and will remain on the internet forever.
It’s tempting to post-party photos or brags about your 15th wedding anniversary. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t know how other people will see it. The point is that information like this will make finding you online child’s play. It becomes even riskier when you’re applying for a job. You might be rejected because you voiced an unpopular opinion publicly. You might even lose your current job.
Wait – That’s Not Fair!
We have freedom of speech, don’t we? We do. However, that’s not the same as freedom from its repercussions. An employer is equally free to reject you. Nothing can stop them.
You can post whatever you want, and not only in the US – most countries won’t stop people from doing that. However, it will make it easier for you to be found and disliked in case your post offends someone. What one person might perceive as harmless fun could be a big deal to another.
In sum, prevention is the best protection. When something is already out there, contact the site and ask them to remove it. They might comply immediately. If not, be persistent and don’t give up until the information is gone.