How to remove your name from public searches
Right now, if you have any history with public agencies such as paying taxes, having a driver’s license, owning a vehicle, owning a business, owning a home, or even having gotten married or divorced, you will have some presence online. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, a Twitter, an email address, or any online presence, you will have information about you recorded online. However, the fact that you have zero online presence is very rare. Even if you only make comments on YouTube or other websites, like Yelp, you still have some online presence. Many people think that if they don’t have accounts online, then no information exists about them. They read websites and news and browse around online, but never shop, or do banking or pay bills. A simple search engine search will show you if your name comes up in a public search.
To be through, you should search your full name, first name and last name, on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Baidu and aol.com. While results are often similar, they can vary, so it’s important to check all of the most popular browsers to get the best idea of where you stand privacy wise. If you notice that your name comes up in public searches, then you might want to take action to remove your name and other information from the internet. This is not the easiest task, and if the information appears on public websites, like tax rolls, DMV, or .gov websites, you will not be able to remove the information unless it is inaccurate. Other websites such as people search sites, or social media, you will be able to go in and delete information. Some websites now require you to provide a written request to remove your account, which is a breach of privacy and invasive. You should tell them the right to delete your account with them should be anonymous and voluntary. They may refer to their user agreement, which may or may not contain specific language around deleting your account, but this does not give them the right to hold your data hostage. You should be allowed out of any agreement you clicked “yes” to.
Once you have an idea of where your information is being publicly shown, you will need to go to each site individually and ask them to remove the data. Some websites have a page where you can make this request. Other websites make it very difficult to contact them and you have to search for even an email address or phone number. Often, there is no reply to your email, and you have to contact them a second or third time. Don’t let this deter you though; persistence is key when it comes to follow-up with many of the people search sites. If you find this task is too much effort, and your name appears on multiple sites, you might want to contact a personal data removal company. Many of these are experienced and can remove your name from the internet and from public searches. If you value your privacy, this is the best option, because these companies do a complete search removal process and ensure they have contacted all websites that are not .gov or state run. They can and do get your name scrubbed from internet searches.