Posted 10/5/2006 4:30 PM ET
There's probably plenty of information about you available on the Internet. Online directories and databases offer this data either free or for a price. Fortunately, you can remove your personal details from some online databases.
But you might be wondering how your name, address, telephone number and, often, date of birth ended up online? Information is obtained from public records and marketing databases. This includes court documents, county and state records, voter registration, marriage licenses, subscriptions and other sources.
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The following are five big online databases with instructions on how to remove your data. For your convenience, I also posted direct links to these sites at www.komando.com/news.
US Search (www.ussearch.com) frequently shows up in online searches. Many online phone directories also link to it. US Search sells background reports to anyone.
But you can remove your records from most of its search results. You must send your request via postal mail.
To do this, US Search requires your name, birth date and Social Security number. Additionally, it wants your addresses going back 15 years. You should also supply any aliases, including your maiden name.
Like US Search, Intelius (www.intelius.com) sells background reports to anyone. Reports include your birth date, court records and address history.
For removal, you must fax a copy of a state-issued ID card or your drivers license. You can cross out your photo and license number. It only requires your name, address and birth date. Alternatively, you can send a notarized form confirming your identity.
Acxiom (www.acxiom.com) provides data to websites, businesses and law enforcement officials. Its products fall into two categories: marketing and reference.
Reference data is culled from public records. It also includes financial information and Social Security numbers. This information is only provided to businesses and law enforcement. You can't opt out.
However, you can opt out of its marketing database. The marketing database does not include credit information or Social Security numbers. Request an opt-out form via telephone or e-mail. Since other businesses use Acxiom's data, this also removes data from some other sites.
Marketers use 555-1212.com to find addresses and phone numbers of potential leads. You can remove your information from its database via an online form.
Removal requires minimal information. You must provide your name as it appears in the site's listing. This may be difficult, as you can't view your listing. You must also provide a phone number and e-mail address.
WhitePages.com is an online directory available to anyone. It lists your name and address in its search results.
You can remove your information via an online form. Your name, city and state are required, along with a reason for removal. You can select General Privacy Concerns.
More sites to visit
Many marketers use the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) preferences. You can submit removal requests for mailing, telemarketing and e-mail lists.
You'll find removal forms on the DMA's site (www.the-dma.org). Some of the forms carry a fee ranging from $1 to $5.
This won't remove your information from all marketing databases. But DMA members are required to adhere to the lists.
Additionally, you can opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers. One request covers four major credit-reporting agencies.
Unfortunately, it often isn't easy to remove public records from databases. Some services only remove sealed records. In many cases, this requires a court order.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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