Unfortunately, many public records search sites simply act as search engines that pull data that is publicly available, and offer no opt-out services.
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While some do offer these services, you have to individually contact each one to have your information removed. Then, look for Opt Out or Contact details on each site to contact the webmaster or customer service team and remove yourself. Some sites will require that you create an account in order to remove yourself.
Lifewire and TopTenReviews. While you can remove yourself from many people finder sites, services like ZabaSearch and Pipl will feature you with no option to remove yourself. Combing through the more than sites to remove your information is time-consuming and may still result in its presence there in the future.
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Having an identity theft protection service that monitors your identity around the clock provides you with the most protection. Someone who obtains enough personal identifying details about yourself, including email addresses and physical addresses, is that much closer to taking over your entire identity. You may wonder why so much personally identifiable information about you is accessible in these online public records.
These public records are not a new phenomenon, but the ease of accessing them on the Internet is. With digitization, a host of privacy and security problems have arisen around public records.
Free Government Public Record Sites
While the types of records that are considered public can vary due to state laws, they usually include:. These records often contain a great deal of personal information. However, once a record is public, there are few rules about what individuals or organizations can do with this data. Before states started putting public records online in the mids, accessing these records meant either mailing out written requests or going to government offices in person. This was a daunting and time-consuming task; therefore, not many people viewed public records, and the information on any single record was generally not sufficient to cause an individual any harm.
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However, over the past few years, numerous data brokerage firms have used online public records to compile detailed personal profiles about you. They then flesh out these profiles with data gathered from social media, news stories, and elsewhere, and sell them to anyone who wants access. Consequently, anyone can quickly and easily find personal information about you online, and this information is very comprehensive, covering many areas of your life. These online profiles leave you exposed to numerous risks.
The following are only a few examples—with links describing real-world cases—of people being harmed:. Depending on which state you live in, the government can completely seal your public records under certain specific circumstances, such as when:. In most states, you can change certain types of personal data in your public records. You can also have other types of information redacted from the electronic versions of those records, and you can ask data brokers to remove your personal information from their indexes.
People Search Sites
You want to find out what kind of information is being associated with your name, and hopefully also where that information comes from. Make a list of the personal information that you find. Then, deal with each type of information as follows:. Not all public records require a physical street address. For some records, you can use a post office box instead.
People Search Engines
Certain types of records, such as voter registration forms, do unfortunately need a physical street address, but for the others you can use a P. Similarly, you can also hide your real phone number by creating a dedicated phone number you use just for government forms. Once you have a new P. These government offices house many of your public records, including:. Call before you go, both to check when they are open and to be sure you bring the correct types of ID.
You should also check to see if there are any forms you need to fill out on their website in advance. The clerk may not automatically show you this database when you ask to see your records, but the information is still accessible to the public.
What threats do online public records create?
This DMV is another treasure trove of public records, including driver and vehicle records, as well as owner histories. Depending on which state you live in, your local DMV office may be able to replace your home address with your new P. Box on any driving-related records.
Check on their website or give them a call, and then go into the DMV to update the records that are eligible in your state. Once you have erased as much personal information as you can from your original records, you need to delete any instance of the old information appearing in online people-search sites. You may have seen some of these in your search results back in Step 1.