Tip #4: Opt out NOW
Opt-Out Link List and Sample Opt-Out Email Template
The email template and process below was originally provided by Abine's Downey in her initial Reddit post (as LawyerCT) HOW TO: Remove yourself from the background check site BeenVerified.com. It has been edited for brevity, and I have used this template with success on multiple people search websites.
First, see if you're listed.
Second, email Support@BeenVerified.com with the following template:
Dear Been Verified Customer Support:
a. First name:
b. Last name:
c. Middle initial:
d. Aliases & AKA's:
e. Current address:
Thank you for your assistance.
Third, you'll get one email saying they received your opt-out request, and another confirming you've been deleted.
Fourth, spread the word.
What follows is an excerpt from Redditor Pibbman's HOW TO: Remove yourself from ALL background check websites. Thanks to LawyerCT. It is not a complete list, but is is fabulously comprehensive in that it targets removing your data from the primary search sites - the big guys. I witnessed a lot of Reddit community at work to put this list together; it took more than a few people to figure it all out.
This list has been edited for clarity, direct links, and to include updates:
BeenVerified.com (link to Downey's how-to)
DOBSearch.com "In order for us to “opt out” your public information from being viewable on the public DOBsearch People Finder search results, we need to verify your identity and require faxed proof of identity. Proof of identity can be a state issued ID card or driver's license, or notarized letter. If you are faxing a copy of your driver's license, you may cross out the photo and the driver's license number. We only need to see the name, address and date of birth. Please fax to 516-717-3017 and allow 4 to 6 weeks to completely process your request. It is your responsibility to ensure legibility of your document."
MyLife.com "To request that a Member Profile or Public Profile be deleted, please contact Customer Care at 1-888-704-1900 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receipt of these requests, and confirmation that you are requesting that your own profile be removed, please allow MyLife 10 business days to complete this removal. It may be necessary to contact you to validate that you are the profile owner requesting the removal. This is to ensure the correct identity and profile ownership before completing these requests, and is for the protection of our users and their privacy."
PeopleLookup.com "In order for PeopleLookup to suppress or opt out your personal information from appearing on our Website, we need to verify your identity. To do this, we require faxed proof of identity. Proof of identity can be a state issued ID card or driver's license. If you are faxing a copy of your driver's license, we require that you cross out the photo and the driver's license number. We only need to see the name, address and date of birth. We will only use this information to process your opt out request. Please fax to 425-974-6194 and allow 4 to 6 weeks to process your request."
Radaris.com (warning: Radaris automatically signs you up for an account on opt-out)
Spoke.com (Scroll down to Access and Correction Section)
For an exhaustive list, here's the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's page of how to opt-out of directory services and information brokers.
As someone in the comments pointed out, what's missing is data powerhouse LexisNexis, whose front-facing background data provider product is KnowX (and Accurint). That's because LexisNexis has no warm and fuzzy ToU that allows removal of your data. Don't like it? Too bad.
Well I didn't like it at all, so I gave them a little push back and contacted them with an explicit opt-out request (and help from the email template).
Here is the LexisNexis opt-out page. As it happens, LexisNexis only allows people to have their personal information suppressed from being shared with the general public:
- If you are a law enforcement officer or public official, submit a letter from your supervisor stating that your position exposes you to a threat of death or serious bodily harm; or
- If you are a victim of identity theft, submit a copy of a police report documenting the identity theft or documentation that verifies the identity theft claim such as a letter from your credit card company, and an Identity Theft Affidavit; or
- If you are at risk of physical harm but do not work in law enforcement, submit a copy of a court protective order, a copy of a police report or similar documentation such as a letter from a social worker, a shelter administrator or a health care professional
As it happens, I have been stalked by a man that used people search websites to find and use my personal information (luckily, some of it was inaccurate). He has a police file documenting this activity, and more, as well as another police file I have open on an internet stalker. I figured his was the police report to use, since he has poisoned various corners of the internet with false information about me culled from people search sites.
I provided LexisNexis with the requisite ID, a letter and a copy of my police report. Cost: time, paper, and a stamp. They responded with two letters within three days of my mailing.
One letter stated my request was on hold pending review of the documentation, the next letter was good news: that my opt-out request was accepted.
Of course, there's always a catch. The caveats in their letter told me that it was removed from their public-facing products, and that the information could be re-introduced to their databases in the future.
At least they gave me a number to call if I have any questions, non-ironically called the "Privacy Hotline."
- Check out this infographic gallery: How people search sites get your information - and what you can do about it
Facebook data sync image via The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled Was… Disclaimer: The Devil Doesn’t Pull Tricks. Infographic created by Sarah A. Downey lawyer and privacy analyst at Abine.