I don’t want you to remove your personal info from the internet, but you probably should

Look… I don’t know you and truth be told, I may never truly know you.  What you need to know is that I don’t really need to know you, to learn all about you.  You could be someone that I come into contact with during the day such as a worker at a restaurant that shares your name with me, a teller at a bank with a name tag or maybe even a name listed on a business card.  With that little bit of information and a little creativity, it is likely that I can learn enough information about you to actually make you feel uncomfortable.  The sad thing is that you can do the same thing that I can do and learn all about someone in a matter of a few minutes. So, as you reflect on what you just read, know that everyone can easily find your personal information online with just a few clicks.

Let me take a few minutes to run through a little scenario.   We will assume that I met you at a conference and you handed me a business card.  On this business card is your first and last name along with the address of the business you work at.  Based on your appearance, I am guessing you are in your mid to late 20’s.

I now know your first and last name, a good idea of the state and maybe even the city where you may reside and an approximate age.  For whatever reason, I want to learn all about you.  I want to know your current address, previous addresses, phone numbers, names of relatives and associates, criminal and traffic records, property information, social networking profiles, and more.

All I have to do is go to my favorite search engine and type in “people search website” or “free background check” and I will be presented with a lot of results.  Once I pick the site I like, I can enter your first and last name, along with a city and or state.  I will then be shown results that match or are similar to the name and location and I can select the result that I think is the best match.  From here I can learn more about you than you ever thought was available on the internet.

Start removing your info here

Scary, huh?  Anyone can do it.  You can look up your own name and test it out and you may be surprised at the results.  So, as the title mentioned, “I don’t want you to remove your personal info from the internet” because I am nosy and like being able to check up on people, but as the title also states “you probably should” remove your info.  Not everyone is looking at your personal information because they are nosy.  Someone may be looking into your personal information with ill intentions… whatever they may be.

Don’t blame the people search sites.  You gave up your personal information at some point in the past and it has been shared, bought and sold over and over again and is now available for free and for a price online.  This information has been available for years to those that knew how to access the information.  It is just now getting in the public’s eye because the internet makes it so easy to find anything about anyone.  The information comes from federal, state and local government records and databases, marketing databases, voter registration, and a lot more.

There is hope.  Most legitimate people search sites provide an option for you to request to remove, alter or hide your information.  The only problem is that you have to request your information be removed for each people search site.  There is a list of people search sites here along with information on what you have to do to remove your info, but it takes time.  If you want your information removed, you will spend the time and effort to request that it is removed.

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