Online people search services have been in the public eye lately and are being scrutinized heavily by privacy advocates. These sites claim that they can look up anyone's information with just a name and address.
These sites usually crawl through publicly available information like age and addresses to create unique people profiles but some claim that they have access to more sensitive information like arrest records, criminal histories or financial information.
We reported on one site in particular, Family Tree Now, that displays a myriad of personal information that you might find creepy and disturbing, including relatives, people you associate with, current and past addresses, and your birthdate.
Other people search sites like Spokeo or Whitepages likewise have revealing information that you would rather not have displayed publicly. For this reason, it might be in your best interest to opt out of their search results.
Some procedures are easy, one in particular, is a pain, but you might want to do them all. Here are the steps we collected for opting out of these online "people databases":
Note: For opt-out routines that require an email address, we recommend that you use a throwaway email address or an email anonymizing service like Maildrop.
Family Tree Now
Family Tree Now is a free site that lets you look up historical records. Shockingly, the site gives away much more information to the public than you would want.
Opting out of Family Tree Now's search results is simple enough.
- Click here - This will direct you to the Family Tree Now Opt Out page. Once there, click the "Begin Opt Out Procedure" button. This is an important link!
- After clicking on the Begin Opt Out Procedure button, you will be taken to a search page. Run a search for yourself.
- Click on the record detail. Verify that this record is you and not someone else with the same name.
- When you are positive that it's your record, click the red "Opt Out" button.
If you are listed more than once, pay attention. Double check your search, as there may be multiple records of you that need to be taken down. If there are, repeat the opt-out procedure for each record.
It takes up to 48 hours for your opt-out request to be processed and then your record will be removed.
Spokeo is another people search site that combines information from the White Pages, public records, and all major social media sites to give you the most comprehensive results.
To opt out of Spokeo, try these steps:
- Do a Spokeo search for your name.
- Copy and save the URL of your profile match listing.
- Head on to Spokeo's opt-out page.
- Paste your saved Spokeo profile URL in the provided field.
- Enter a valid email address for the confirmation link (we recommend using anonymous mail services like Maildrop).
- Pass the Captcha test then click "Remove This Listing".
- Verify with the removal confirmation email.
PeekYou is another search engine that scours more than 60 sites ranging from social media to news sites.
To opt out of PeekYou's search results, do this:
- Search for yourself in PeekYou using your name and state.
- If you see a match, click on it to proceed to the profile page. Copy and save the Unique ID number (located at the end of the profile's URL on the address bar).
- Proceed to PeekYou's Opt Out page, fill out the form, including the Unique ID number you saved.
- Under the Actions drop-down box, select "Remove my entire listing".
- Complete the Captcha, confirm the fine print checkboxes then hit submit.
- Wait for the email verification for removal confirmation and after that, your information will be purged from the PeekYou's search results.
Instant Checkmate searches public record databases and serves local, state and federal data.
To opt out of Instant Checkmate:
- Go to Instant Checkmate's opt out page.
- Fill out the Expedited Opt out form with all the pertinent information.
- Pass the Captcha test to verify that you're not a robot then click "Opt Out."
According to Instant Checkmate, the requested information will be removed from the site within 48 hours.