An expanding market for personal information has prompted growing concern about privacy. Anyone can run a simple search for your name, city, and state to reveal a number of data mining websites eager to share and sell your private data. Such easy and immediate access to personal information poses a number of privacy and security risks.
In fact, the FTC just announced that Spokeo.com is to pay a hefty settlement in response to the FTC charges alleged against the company. According to the FTC, Spokeo was in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act for marketing consumer profiles as a resource for employment screening and background checks, while failing to ensure all information provided was accurate. The icing on the cake? That Spokeo employees were writing fake endorsements about the site online.
Don’t want Spokeo selling your personal information? The first step in protecting and controlling your personal data is to remove any existing info about you.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to remove yourself from Spokeo:
1. Go to Spokeo.com. Type your full name in the search box, along with the city and state where you currently live, and click “Search.”
2. Spokeo will generate a list of results. Search through these results for your listing, and click on the appropriate listing to expand it and view more details. Note that you will probably have more than one listing.
3. Each listing page displays some of your personal information and offers the “Full Results” for a price. Copy the URL of your listing page by clicking in your browser’s web address bar, highlighting the URL text, and clicking “copy” from the right-click menu.
4. Go to Spokeo’s opt out page in a new browser window or tab. Scroll down and fill out the following in the specified fields:
- Paste the URL of your listing by clicking “paste” from the right-click menu.
- Enter your email address. Spokeo will send a confirmation email to that address, which contains a link you must click to confirm the removal of the listing. (Don’t want to provide your own email address? Go to FakeMailGenerator.com. Use the email address in the top right corner of the screen and keep the page open to receive your email.)
- Enter the CAPTCHA code
5. Click “Remove this listing.” You’ll receive the message “Please check your email for further instructions.”
6. Go to the email address you provided and open the email from Spokeo. Click “click here” to confirm removal.
7. You’re done! Your information will be removed from Spokeo.com shortly. Sometimes it comes down immediately, but it can take up to 24 hours.
Now repeat steps 1-7 for all of your previous addresses and variations of your name. Spokeo tends to post multiple listings, so you’ll likely find yourself on their website more than once.
Note that Spokeo only allows 5 removal requests per email address and IP address. If you receive a message that says “In order to prevent abuse, we must limit the frequency of automated privacy requests,” use an email address from FakeMailGenerator.com and use a free proxy server like TurboHide to access Spokeo’s privacy page and process more removal requests.
Be sure to go back and check for your information periodically. Spokeo is always collecting new public records and information about you, and inevitably your name will pop back up on their website at some point.
Sound like too much work? Check out our DeleteMe service, which removes personal information from Spokeo along with 17 other people search sites, and we’ll do it all for you!