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Opt-Out Tuesday: Remove yourself from creepy people search sites

Your smartphone’s built-in GPS comes in handy when mapping out directions. It’s also great for finding nearby restaurants and other attractions. The flip side is you can be tracked through your phone.

There are settings to limit or stop location tracking, but finding them isn’t always easy. You can opt out of targeted ads. Tap or click here for eight ways to stop your iPhone or Android phone from tracking you.

Opt-out Tuesday is our new series in which we show you how to remove yourself, step by step, from people search sites. These sites advertise their services as helping you find friends or relatives, but anyone can use them to find out more about you. Keep reading to take back some of your privacy.

Avoid people search sites at all costs, especially if it costs you

Don’t ever pay for any people search service. Most of these sites are scammy in nature. You may think you’re paying for one report and find that you’ve been roped into recurring charges.

Don’t pay to remove your information from any site. This process must be provided for free.

Be careful which links you click. They’re often ads that lead you to another site that requests payment. We’ll provide accurate links to remove yourself from these sites with each Opt-out Tuesday report.

Do you have older relatives who may not know about these sites? While you’re opting out yourself, why not do the same for them? Just type in their information as you would your own, and follow our steps to completion.

RELATED: Data-hungry apps: These are the worst for your privacy

People search sites are good for scammers and hackers

People search sites collect and sell personal information. This can include your name, address, birthday, gender, marital status, family members, social media profiles, education level, property records, financial records, phone number, police record, employment information and more.

The sites scrape this information from local, state and federal public records, court records, social media, forums, and other sources. They can also purchase information from data brokers.

Anyone can use people search services to get information about others. A jealous ex can find out where you live. A scammer can use the information for extortion. The more someone knows about you, the more damage they can do.

RELATED: How to remove your address and phone number from Google search results

How is this legal? Data brokers are loosely regulated at best, and there’s no law to prevent them from collecting and selling publicly available information.

Many sites have a process to remove your records, though it’s not always straightforward:

  • You might have to repeat the process if your records appear under different names (due to changing your name or a typo).
  • You may also have to repeat the process multiple times before your information stops coming up in searches.

Give it about a week between attempts. If your information is still there, contact the company directly. We’ve included everything you need to know for each site below.

Remove yourself from AddressSearch

AddressSearch prides itself on providing free access to more than 95 million email addresses and 140 million mailing addresses.

Here’s how to get your information off of AddressSearch:

  • Go to addresssearch.com/remove-info.
  • Enter your name, email address and other information.
  • Select Remove yourself when you’re done.
  • You’ll be taken to a confirmation page with the message, Your information has successfully been removed.

Wait 24 to 48 hours for your information to be removed.

Go to addresssearch.com/contact.php for any questions or concerns.

For more in-depth instructions on AddressSearch, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from Spokeo

Spokeo boasts a database of 12 billion records. Nearly 20 million people visit Spokeo.com each month.

Follow our step-by-step instructions to opt out of Spokeo:

  • Go to spokeo.com and enter your information to search for your profile.
  • Refine your search by selecting a state from the Browse Locations list. Tap All Filters to refine your search further.
  • Tap on your name to go to your profile page and copy the URL.
  • Go to spokeo.com/optout.
  • Paste the URL in the Enter URL here field.
  • Enter your email address and complete the Captcha.
  • Select Remove this listing.
  • Check your email for a message from Spokeo.
  • Tap or click the link below this line: To complete the removal process, please click this URL or paste it into your browser.
  • You’ll be taken to a page with the message, We’ve received your request to remove this listing.

Give the site at least a week to process your removal request.

If you need customer support, call Spokeo at 888-558-9004. Check out the contact page for more ways to get in touch.

For more in-depth instructions on Spokeo, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from MyLife

MyLife launched in 2008 due to a merger between two other search sites: Reunion.com and Wink.com. The site boasts a Reputation Score feature, which assigns a number based on how you’re presented online to anyone who cares to look.

Here’s how to remove yourself entirely from the site.

  • Go to mylife.com and select the Do Not Sell My Personal Information button at the bottom of the page.
  • Fill in the required starred information.
  • Select Find URL of Reputation Profile by last name and then select the first letter of your last name.
  • You’ll have to go through quite a bit of narrowing down to get to a list of profiles that match yours.
  • Once you find your profile, copy the URL and paste it into the field marked Enter the profile URL on the opt-out page.
  • When you’re finished, select Opt Out at the bottom of the form.

A message appears that states your request will be processed within 15 business days.

If you need customer support, call 888-704-1900 or email membersupport@mylife.com.

For more in-depth instructions on MyLife, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from Search Systems

Search Systems has been around since 1996. It has its own opt-out process, but you may be redirected to another people search site if you want to remove your information. In this case it’s BeenVerified, a site you’ll find throughout this roundup.

We’ve included instructions for both opt-out processes below:

  • Go to publicrecords.searchsystems.net.
  • Enter your first name, last name and state in the provided fields.
  • Read the fine print about not using the information you find for nefarious purposes and tap I agree.
  • Find your information in the search results and click the link.
  • Copy the link to the URL.
  • Now go to publicrecords.searchsystems.net/opt-out.php or tap Remove My Records at the bottom of the Search Systems homepage.
  • Enter your name and email address and paste the link to the information you copied earlier.
  • Under Reason for Removal, tell the simple truth. You don’t want your personal information available through this site.
  • Enter the code to prove you’re not a robot and select Submit Request.
  • Look out for a confirmation email.

Wait a couple of weeks for your information to clear.

If you need to contact Search Systems, go to publicrecords.searchsystems.net/contact.php.

For more in-depth instructions on Search Systems, including screenshots, tap or click here.

If you’re redirected to BeenVerified, here’s how to opt-out from there:

  • Go to beenverified.com/app/optout/search.
  • Enter your first and last name and select your state from the drop-down menu. Then hit the Search button.
  • Select the correct match from the search results and click Proceed to Opt-Out.
  • Fill in your email address and click Send Verification Email.
  • Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page.

Expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

For customer support, write to support@beenverified.com.

For more in-depth instructions on BeenVerified, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from PeopleLookup

Like many people search sites, PeopleLookup is linked with other similar services. They share data sources as well as opt-out processes.

PeopleLookup links you to an opt-out page via US Search. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to ussearch.com/opt-out/submit
  • Enter your first and last name, state of residence and email address, and tap Continue.
  • Find yourself in the list of results and tap Remove Record.
  • You may need to scroll down and complete the verification process and select Verify.
  • You’ll get an email verification. Check the information and select Confirm Email. You’ll be taken to a page that tells you you’re confirmed.

It will take some time for your information to be removed.

If you’re having problems removing yourself from the site, contact US Search by email at support@ussearch.com or call 888-712-0108.

For more in-depth instructions on PeopleLookup, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from Intelius

Intelius is one of the more prominent data brokers on the web and owns several people search sites such as PeopleFinder, ZabaSearch and US Search.

Here’s how to opt-out of Intelius:

  • Go to intelius.com/opt-out/submit.
  • Enter your first and last name, state of residence and email and select Continue.
  • Find your name on the next page and select Remove This Record.
  • You’ll be sent to a page informing you that an email confirmation was sent.
  • Open the message in your inbox and scan the information before hitting the Confirm Email button.
  • You’ll be taken to a final confirmation page.

Your information will be removed from the Intelius database within seven days.

If you need help, contact customer support at 888-245-1655 or send a message to support@mailer.intelius.com.

For more in-depth instructions on Intelius, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from StateRecords

Removing your information from StateRecords is an easy process:

  • Go to staterecords.org/optout.
  • Enter your name, state and city.
  • Mark the checkbox for all entries that match your information, then select Remove Data.
  • Enter your email address on the next screen and complete the Captcha.
  • Select Submit when you’re done.
  • Check your email for a message from support@staterecords.org.
  • Select Click Here to confirm your removal request.
  • You’ll be taken to a confirmation page. And with that, you’re done.

Wait a few days, search the site for your records, and repeat the process if necessary.

If you have any issues, contact StateRecords at 855-938-5042.

For more in-depth instructions on StateRecords, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from FreePhoneTracer

FreePhoneTracer is part of the BeenVerified network. It uses the same simple opt-out process:

  • Go to beenverified.com/app/optout/search.
  • Enter your first and last name and select your state from the drop-down menu. Then hit the Search button.
  • Select the correct match from the search results and click Proceed to Opt-Out.
  • Fill in your email address and click Send Verification Email.
  • Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page.

Expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

For customer support, write to support@beenverified.com.

For more in-depth instructions on FreePhoneTracer, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate boasts more than 1.4 billion searches on its website. Checkmate, indeed.

Here’s how to erase your information from Instant Checkmate.

  • Go to instantcheckmate.com/opt-out.
  • Fill in your name, city and state and hit Search.
  • Select the correct match from the search results and choose Remove This Record (you’ll have to repeat this process for each match).
  • Enter your email address, complete the Captcha and select Send Confirmation Email.
  • Open the confirmation email (check your spam/junk folders if you don’t see it) and select Confirm Opt-Out.
  • You’ll be taken to a confirmation screen, and you’re done.

Your data should be removed in 48 hours.

If you need help, contact customer support at 800-222-8985.

For more in-depth instructions on Instant Checkmate, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from DOBSearch

While many people search sites have their own databases, others exist just to lead you elsewhere. DOBSearch is a perfect example of this. At the moment, it exists only to push people to another site we’ve covered in Opt-Out Tuesday — BeenVerified.

Follow the same opt-out process used for BeenVerified to remove your information from DOBSearch:

  • Go to beenverified.com/app/optout/search.
  • Enter your first and last name and select your state from the drop-down menu. Then hit the Search button.
  • Select the correct match from the search results and click Proceed to Opt-Out.
  • Fill in your email address and click Send Verification Email.
  • Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page.

Expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

You can also fill out the form at dobsearch.com/contact and ask for your information to be removed.

For more in-depth instructions on DOBSearch, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from PeopleFinder

We covered PeopleFinders in a previous edition Opt-Out Tuesday, but this is PeopleFinder — the same name, minus the “S” at the end. The spelling doesn’t matter, as both sites exist to perform the same invasive function.

PeopleFinder is powered by Intelius, a public records company that runs a people search site and owns others, such as ZabaSearch. PeopleFinder links you to an opt-out page via Intelius:

  • Go to intelius.com/opt-out/submit.
  • Enter your first and last name, state of residence and email and select Continue.
  • Find your name on the next page and select Remove This Record.
  • You’ll be sent to a page informing you that an email confirmation was sent out.
  • Open the message in your inbox and scan the information before hitting the Confirm Email button.
  • You’ll be taken to a final confirmation page.

Your information will be removed from the Intelius database within seven days.

If you need help, contact customer support at 888-245-1655 or send a message to support@mailer.intelius.com.

For more in-depth instructions on PeopleFinder, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from PeopleByName

PeopleByName doesn’t want you to opt out. The site makes it difficult to find the right page to get your information out. Our content queen, Allie, had to navigate through annoying links and redirects, but she found what she was looking for!

Here’s how to erase your information from PeopleByName:

  • Go to peoplebyname.com/remove.php.
  • You’ll be asked for a record ID. You don’t have to provide it, and we recommend not doing so since you’d have to search through the website to find it. Do that, and you run the risk of clicking a shady link.
  • Just enter your first name, last name and email.
  • You also must enter a reason for deleting your data. Type something like “I want it removed for the sake of privacy.” Of course, you can get creative and write something else. Just make sure to get the point across.
  • Either way, hit Request Removal to complete the process.

In around a day, the email you provided should get an update.

For more in-depth instructions on PeopleByName, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from PeekYou

As with any people search site, PeekYou advertises its services as a convenient way to find your friends and relatives. Of course, anyone can find information on anyone else using people search sites.

There are a couple of ways to remove your information from PeekYou:

  • Go to peekyou.com and enter your first and last name and state. Click the search button.
  • You’ll get a list of matches near the top of the page. Click on the match that applies to you.
  • On the next page, click Opt Out in the upper-right corner of the box containing your information. It’s gray and hard to see, but it’s there.
  • You’ll be taken to an opt-out form, with the Unique ID for the profile you selected already filled in.
  • Enter your email address and complete the captcha.
  • Read and confirm the agreements and click submit.
  • You’ll get an email with a confirmation link. Click the link and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page.

Alternatively, you can go to PeekYou homepage and scroll down to the bottom of the page and select Do Not Sell My Personal Information. From here you can enter your personal information and URLs linking to any matching profiles on the site. Use the above steps to complete your opt-out request.

If you need to contact PeekYou, send an email to info@peekyou.com.

For more in-depth instructions on PeekYou, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from Private Eye

Here’s how to remove yourself from Private Eye’s database, which is owned by PeopleFinders:

  • Go to privateeye.com/static/view/contact.
  • Tap or click the Click Here To Opt Out button on the left side of the page.
  • An Opt Out box appears on the page. Fill in your name, city and state and complete the Captcha.
  • Tap or click the Opt out button.
  • You’ll be taken to a page with a dancing animated hamster.

If you need additional assistance, contact customer support here.

For more in-depth instructions on Private Eye, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from ZabaSearch

ZabaSearch is powered by Intelius, which has its own people search site and owns others such as PeopleFinder. ZabaSearch links you to an opt-out page via Intelius:

  • Go to intelius.com/opt-out/submit.
  • Enter your first and last name, state of residence and email and select Continue.
  • Find your name on the next page and select Remove This Record.
  • You’ll be sent to a page informing you that an email confirmation was sent out.
  • Open the message in your inbox and scan the information before hitting the Confirm Email button.
  • You’ll be taken to a final confirmation page.

Your information will be removed from the Intelius database within seven days.

If you need help, contact customer support at 888-245-1655 or send a message to support@mailer.intelius.com.

For more in-depth instructions on ZabaSearch, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from SpyFly

With a name like “SpyFly” you know it’s bad. There are two ways to remove your information from SpyFly. The help page says to email support@spyfly.com with your first and last name as shown on the website, along with your age, your current address and your previous addresses. The process should take 24 hours.

The other method is to opt-out through the website:

  • Go to spyfly.com.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the homepage and select Remove My Public Record.
  • Scroll down and enter your name, age, current address, previous address and email address.
  • Tap or click Submit and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page.
  • Check your email for a message from SpyFly Support.
  • You’ll have to reply to the email to validate your request. Try something like, “Please remove the information associated with me from the SpyFly.com database” or “Please remove my information from SpyFly.com.” Be concise and clear.

Wait a few days and search the site again for your records. If you have any issues, contact SpyFly customer support here.

For more in-depth instructions on SpyFly, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from US Search

US Search is one of the earliest people search sites, having been around since 1993. Here’s how to remove yourself from this enduring privacy invader:

  • Go to ussearch.com/opt-out/submit.
  • Enter your first and last name, state of residence and email address, and tap Continue.
  • Find yourself in the list of results and tap Remove Record.
  • You may need to scroll down and complete the verification process and select Verify.
  • You’ll get an email verification. Check the information and select Confirm Email. You’ll be taken to a page that tells you you’re confirmed.

Allow for some time for your information to be removed.

For customer support, write to support@ussearch.com or call 888-712-0108.

For more in-depth instructions on US Search, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from PeopleFinders

PeopleFinders has been around for 20 years. You’ll definitely want to remove your information from this one. Here’s how:

  • Go to peoplefinders.com and enter your name, city and state, then click Search.
  • Find your profile and hit View.
  • Copy the URL and go to peoplefinders.com/opt-out.
  • Enter the URL and your email address.
  • Complete the Captcha and click Send Request.
  • Click the verification link in the email, and eventually, your information will disappear from the site.

For customer support, call 800-718-8997.

For more in-depth instructions on PeopleFinders, including screenshots, tap or click here.

Remove yourself from BeenVerified

BeenVerified lets users search for property records as well as personal information. Here’s how to remove your data:

  • Go to https://www.beenverified.com/app/optout/search.
  • Enter your first and last name and select your state from the drop-down menu. Then hit the Search button.
  • Select the correct match from the search results and click Proceed to Opt-Out.
  • Fill in your email address and click Send Verification Email.
  • Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page.

Expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

Now you can go on to remove your property data:

  • Go to https://www.beenverified.com/app/optout/address-search.
  • Enter your address in the search box.
  • Click Continue next to your matching result.
  • Tick the box on the names you want to remove from the record, then click Opt-out Owner.
  • Fill in your email address and click Send Verification Email.
  • Open the email and click the link inside. This will bring you to a confirmation page.

Expect it to take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

For customer support, write to support@beenverified.com.

For more in-depth instructions on BeenVerified, including screenshots, tap or click here.

You may also like: 8 ways Google constantly invades your privacy — and how to fix it

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