I-TEAM: How to wipe your name from the net

Go ahead — Google yourself. You may be surprised just how much personal information pops up on the screen. So the News4JAX I-TEAM teamed up with Consumer Reports to help you wipe your name from the net.

Go ahead — Google yourself. You may be surprised just how much personal information pops up on the screen. So the News4JAX I-TEAM teamed up with Consumer Reports to help you wipe your name from the net.

While creepy and potentially dangerous, Consumer Reports says it’s legal for companies to collect your info from public records.

“Wow. This is unreal. How do they know all this stuff?” asked a shocked Konstantinos Sofos after finding out how much of his personal information is available on the internet. “It’s a little scary and just unnerving to know that my whole life history is online.”

Sofo says he didn’t intentionally upload any of that information, and you likely didn’t upload the info you found when you searched your name, either. So the question is: How did it get there?

Consumer Reports says people-search websites are just one part of the data broker industry that collects information about people and companies and then sells that information for advertising and other purposes. The major sites include:

  • BeenVerified
  • FamilyTreeNow
  • FastPeopleSearch
  • Instant Checkmate
  • Intelius
  • MyLife
  • PeekYou
  • PeopleFinders
  • Pipl
  • Radaris
  • Spokeo
  • TruthFinder
  • USPhoneBook
  • Whitepages

While those sites are the most well-known, there are actually more than 50 data brokers that Consumer Reports compiled with opt-out links. You can find that here.

“A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s tons of information about them online,” said Consumer Reports’ Yael Grauer, who investigates online data collection and privacy. “Like, these companies don’t tell you they’re putting up your information.”

We’re talking about personal info like your current and former addresses, phone number, email, names of your relatives, and even arrest records. That’s potentially risky because that gives employers, online stalkers or even identity thieves access to that personal information without you even knowing it.

Options to wipe your name from the net

You can start by checking out those well-known data broker sites (listed above) for your personal information.

Some sites may require a copy of your license or other ID. Consumer Reports says it’s sometimes necessary to provide data brokers with some personal information to get them to remove your data. But before you send it, cross out any excess information, like your license number or Social Security number.

If you’d rather let someone else do the work, Consumer Reports says companies like DeleteMe, Kanary and OneRep charge around $100 a year to remove your information from a number of sites.

Consumer Reports says, if you choose to do the work yourself, make a list of the sites you’ve opted out of. You’ll want to go back to the same sites that removed your data to make sure it’s gone.