Between information that is publicly available and information that we share about ourselves on social media, there is a lot of information available online. A quick search on your name can bring up all sorts of surprising details including old phone numbers, your home address, or social media pictures you’d rather forget existed.
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These days it’s a common practice for people to research other people online before an interview, a date, or simply because they are curious. There are even websites that specialize in people searches such as PeopleFinders. These websites are data brokers. They crawl the web looking for public records, mailing lists, surveys, news, social media profiles, and other bits of data and arrange it into a digital profile for millions of people.
The information can be potentially useful, especially if you are looking for a long lost high school friend or if you’ve lost touch with relatives. However, data brokers also sell this information and profit from your personal data. These websites are designed to help marketers, insurance companies, and anyone who has the money to pay find your information with just the click of a button. This is where PeopleFinders opt out can help.
As one of the largest data brokers, PeopleFinders has almost certainly amassed a significant amount of personal information on you – information you probably don’t want to share with the world. Whether you are trying to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you and junk mail you receive or you simply want to protect your privacy online, removing yourself from PeopleFinders online directory can bring you peace of mind.
What Is PeopleFinders?
PeopleFinders is one of dozens of sites online that gathers your personal information from a wide range of online sources and then aggregates that data into a personal profile and report available for purchase. PeopleFinders then makes this information available to anyone who wants to purchase it.
The company was launched in 1999 in order to give people a more convenient way to access publ records data online. Since then, PeapleFinders has become a leading Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) provider for consumers and businesses seeking detailed information on people, places, and other information that is accessed via public record in the United States.
PeopleFinders is one of the largest owners of public records data in the U.S with an estimated 43 billion data records on file. PeopleFinders allows visitors to start their search for free and will show some basic information for free. For a complete profile on arrest records, background checks, reverse phone number look up, or information from public records users can pay a small fee to receive the full information. If you’re willing to pay you can have access to any of their 43 billion data records and you can search for anyone who hasn’t completed the opt out process.
Data brokers like PeopleFinders do serve a legitimate purpose – for example, they provide vital assistance to adoptees searching for their biological families or offer clues to people conducting genealogy research – but they can also be used for more nefarious purposes, such as predatory marketing or stalking.
How Does PeopleFinders Work?
PeopleFinders uses several forms of web scraping software to gather personally-identifying information from the following sources:
- Vital statistics are drawn from government records such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees.
- Business directories which may include your name, title, business address, website, and work email address and phone number
- Court records, including arrest warrants, traffic violations, sex offender databases, and fugitive records
- Social media
- Property records from government agencies, including real estate deeds and tax assessment records
- Email databases
- Phone directories
- Consumer indexes, which typically include your name, age, address, and other demographic details from consumer profiles
Many people are not aware that this information is all public information and readily available for anyone to see online. It is completely legal for data brokers like PeopleFinders to collect this data and sell it. Unless you explicitly go through the PoepleFinders opt out process, they will continue to profit from your personal information. They are, however, legally bound to comply with your request to remove yourself from the site.
What Are the Risks?
As more and more of us continue to use the internet in our daily lives, it’s an undeniable fact that your private information exists in the digital world for almost anyone to find. This reality may not be particularly worrisome to some people who (correctly) point out that all of the information is already publicly available. Data brokers such as PeopleFinders simply connect the dots and aggregate the data into a single easy to use source.
However, if you are uncomfortable with data brokers like PeopleFinders collecting and selling your personal data, you’re not alone. Many people find it uncomfortable knowing that their data is no longer private and that it can be easily accessed and used to commit fraud, identity theft, stalking, harassment, and a long list of other unlawful activities. While opting out of PeopleFinders won’t erase your personal data from the internet, it does making it more difficult for these bad actors to find it.
Once you opt out, someone searching for your personal information would have to manually visit multiple websites and sources in order to compile the same type of report that PeopleFinders previously provided with just a click. Opting out doesn’t make you immune to online criminal activity, however, it does make you less of an easy target.
How to Remove Yourself from PeopleFinders
If you’ve decided that exercising extra control over your personal data is worth the time and effort it takes to opt out of PeopleFinders, the guide below will take you step-by-step through the entire process.
PeopleFinders Opt Out Guide
Completing the PeopleFinders opt out process described here will remove your personal information from the PeopleFinders database, but keep in mind you’ll need to go through a similar process with other data brokers (Including PeekYou, Spokeo, Intelius, and many others) to ensure that your personal information is virtually impossible to find online.
First, you’ll need to create an email address that doesn’t use your name or any personally identifying information, the more generic the better. You’ll use this email address to complete the removal process with PeopleFinder, which requires you to click on a link within a confirmation email to finalize the opt out process. Creating this throwaway email account prevents PeopleFinders from retaining (and possibly sharing) an email address you use for business or personal correspondence. Guerrilla Mail, which offers temporary “disposable” email addresses, is a good option for this step, but make sure to complete the process before your account automatically disappears.
Go to PeopleFinders and conduct a search for your name, including and variations that may exist online: professional names, maiden names, nicknames, full names, middle names, and even your spouse’s name.
Click on any results that apply to you, starting with the city and state where you currently live. You can also see relatives or known associates out to the right-hand side to help you narrow down your search. Copy the URL of the page that lists all available information about the person associated with the address.
Next, navigate back to the homepage and down the bottom of the page. Click on the “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link at the bottom of the page under Help.
Paste the URL you copied earlier of the webpage with your personal information into the first box and then enter your throw away email address that you just created into the second box. Click the reCapthca to verify that you are a human and hit the request information button.
You will receive a pop-up window that says a verification email has been sent to your email address. It will ask you to please click the link in the email to finalize the opt out process.
Check your email account for a confirmation email from PeopleFinders. If it’s not in your main inbox, look in the spam folder. Open the email and click the link to confirm that you wish to remove the listing.
You’ll need to repeat this process for any other listings for you that are associated with different addresses.
What Information Does PeopleFinders Remove?
While PeopleFinders will no longer have your information in its listings going forward, keep in mind that dozens of other entries – other data mining companies, marketers, and individuals, for example, may already have access to your personal information. They may have already accessed it, downloaded it, shared it, or even sold it. Simply opting out of PeopleFinders isn’t going to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
You may also notice that your PeopleFinders listing still shows up in results for search engines when you search for your name. While users will not be able to access your previous PeopleFinders profile, they still may see a snippet of your personal data in a search preview. This information may linger online for some time depending on how various search engines index their results.
Additionally, it is worth noting the information PeopleFinders used to compile this profile on you still exists online, just not all in one place. Elimination of most or all of them can be incredibly tedious and time-consuming, which is why thousands of people rely on third-party removal services like Removaly, which uses powerful web search tools to locate and handle opt out processes for hundreds of online directory sites, data brokers, and other information aggregator websites.
Frequently Asked Questions About PeopleFinders Listing Removal
Here are a few common questions we receive about the PeopleFinders opt out process and the answers to those questions.
How Long Does it Take to Get My Information Removed From PeopleFinders?
According to PeopleFinders, your personal information can take up to 48 hours to disappear from the site, although removal may occur more quickly in some cases.
Is the Process of Removing My Information From People Finders Secure?
When you use a data removal service like Removaly, any information you submit goes through SSL encryption to protect its security. If you choose to complete the opt out process yourself, PeopleFinders doesn’t offer any guarantees about the security of your data.
The site says, “No data transmission over the Internet, wireless transmission or electronic storage of information can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. Please note that we cannot ensure the security of any information you transmit to us, and your use of the PeopleFinders Applications indicates that you are willing to assume this. When you enter sensitive information (such as a credit card number) on our order forms, we encrypt the transmission of that information using secure socket layer technology (SSL).”
What Does PeopleFinders Do with My Personal Information?
Generally speaking, the information you use to remove yourself from PeopleFinders is used for that purpose alone. However, using an email address created explicitly for the removal process (as recommended in the step-by-step opt out guide) helps ensure that your personal or professional email address won’t inadvertently be retained or shared.
I Have More Than one Listing on PeopleFinders. What Should I do?
PeopleFinders draws its data from thousands of online sources, including government records, social media, marketing databases, and even other data brokers. This online information has accrued over the course of your lifetime, so if you’ve used different names at different times or for different purposes (such as replacing a maiden name with a married name or using a nickname to subscribe to a magazine or digital newsletter), you may have separate records for each variation. Changes in address can also trigger new records.
Unfortunately, each of these separate listings must be removed via a separate opt out process. One of the primary benefits of data removal services like Removaly is that they take on this time-consuming, repetitive work for you, so you have more time to devote to the things you care about most.
What if I Don’t Have the Time Available to Remove My Data From These Sites?
If your information is on PeopleFinders, it’s almost certainly available through other data brokers as well, and there are dozens of them. Some are well-known and easy to find, such as Intelius, Whitepages, and PeekYou, but others fly under the radar and can be difficult for the average person to locate.
Even if you were to focus just on the more visible data brokers, completing all of the removal requests, confirmations and any needed follow-up can eat up hours of valuable time.
Services like Removaly are able not only to locate both the highly visible and the obscure data mining services but also take on the burden of completing the opt out process for all of them, allowing you to redirect your resources elsewhere.
Other Opt Out Guides
- Spokeo Opt Out Guide
- MyLife Opt Out Guide
- Radaris Opt Out Guide
- Whitepages Opt Out Guide
- Intelius Opt Out Guide
PeopleFinders and the California Consumers Privacy Act (CCPA)
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018 and implemented in January 2020, significantly shifted the landscape for online data brokers like Spokeo.
Under the law, California residents have the right to:
- Request that a business collecting personal information disclose the categories of information it collects, as well as the specific information the business has collected on that person and the purpose for which it was collected.
- Request that a business deletes any personal information it may have collected about them.
- Request that the business discloses the categories of personal information it sells and the purpose of the sale, as well as any personal information for that individual that the business has sold.
- Opt out of having their personal data retained or sold by a business.
Not only must companies comply with these requests at no charge to the requesting individual, but they are also required to provide a clear avenue for consumers to make these requests (typically a phone number, website, email address, or some combination of these). Companies’ websites must also include a detailed description of consumers’ rights regarding the collection and sale of their personal data.