Opt Out of Public Database Information
DAY 27: Opt Out of Public Database Information
Welcome to Day 27 of my 30 day security challenge, the month long challenge I created to help you gain control of your privacy and security online. You can follow along with the whole series at snubsie.com where you can also download a checklist, and subscribe to youtube.com/tekthing for the entire video playlist.
Today we're going to chat about public record information databases. Public records are available to anyone who is searching for information on you, and could include your real name, birthday, address, phone number, age, gender, previous addresses, and more. This information could be sensitive material depending on your life, and unfortunately, lots of sites have popped up that scrape this data from places like voting registration and dmv records, property records, death records, business licenses, marriage licenses, criminal records, and more. These sites curate databases of thousands of people and most of it is readily accessible to anyone who wants to find you. It's also usually the first place someone will go if they're looking to find info on you.
While these databases are completely legal, it also makes it a lot easier for a criminal to physically find you. The sites continually scrape data and update their databases as well, so if you remove information from a site one month, it may appear again after a few months. It's a good idea to check these sites now and then to ensure your data hasn't appeared again.
My friend Lesley created a detailed blog post on opting out of these kinds of sites at her blog, which I'll link in the shownotes. In it, she explains and links to each of the sites that may have your information on record. She makes two crucial points that I think are very important:
1) The sites aren't always accurate, so check for different names, or addresses via their search criteria in case there are multiple entries for you.
2) Some of them require an email verification to opt out, so it's wise to create a new email address that all of these verification emails will go to. You don't want them scraping your real email address and sticking that on the site too!
Sites you will most likely want to remove your data from include BeenVerified.com, Intelius, Lookup.com, LookupAnyone.com, MyLife, PeekYou, PeopleFinder, PrivateEye, PublicRecords.com, Spoke, Spokeo, WhitePages, FamilyTreeNow, and more. Some of these require you to send them a valid photo ID for removal, but most have an opt out process on the website.
There are a few ways to minimize the risk of having your real data online. You could just move into a tiny home in the middle of the woods and never register anything with the state agencies or government, and I envy you if you can do that - but that's kinda hard to do for many adults. Alternatives include: creating a trust for all of your money, property, and ownerships; establishing a business entity and running everything through that; and using alternative addresses for things like DMV and voter records. You could also sign up with a paid service like Abine, recommended by many infosec professionals. This service provides ongoing opt outs for people searches and charges a per year fee.
Day 27 is now complete! Tomorrow is all about RFID and Faraday bags. But first, make sure to subscribe on youtube.com/tekthing and hit up snubsie.com for the downloadable checklist. Again, I'm Shannon Morse and I'll see you tomorrow for day 28!