Remove Phone Listing
I just did a search for my phone number on Google and was shocked at the results that popped up. It showed my full name, street address and a map of my neighborhood with a big arrow pointing to my house! One more click and it showed a satellite photo of my house. I could see the car in the driveway and the dog in the back yard. How can I remove my personal information from Google and other online phone directories?
Should You Remove Your Listing From Online Phone Directories?
I agree that it can be a bit of a shock to learn that some information you thought was private, is in fact very public. You've known all your life that your name, address and phone number are in the phone book. It's common sense that your neighborhood can be found on a map of your city. And satellite photos are nothing new. But websites that combine all of this information, and make it easy to find and act on... that's unsettling news to a lot of people.
But should it be? Seven years ago, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said "You have zero privacy... get over it." As more and more public information becomes available online (such as property ownership records, voter registration, political donations, court filings) and more people willingly post private information online (think Myspace, YouTube, photo sharing, genealogy) we do become a much more transparent society.
That transparency can be both good and bad. It allows good, law-abiding citizens to easily find information that can help them educate and protect themselves. But it also enables miscreants to quickly gain access to information that can be used to perpetrate identity theft and other crimes. My personal opinion is that the potential for good outweighs the prospects for evil, because this wealth of information is freely available to everyone. But if you disagree, or feel uncomfortable about how others can access public information about you, read on.
Remove Me, Please
If you want to remove your listing from the most popular online telephone directories, here are the links and instructions to do so. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover all the major sources, and most of the smaller ones are powered by the databases of the ones below.
- Google PhoneBook - Visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/pbremoval.html
- InfoSpace - You can delete your listing by searching the InfoSpace White Pages to find your listing. Once you have located it, click the update or remove link.
- Switchboard.com - To remove your listing, search for it at Switchboard.com then click the Update your listing link beside it. You can also send your listing (include name, address, and phone number) to firstname.lastname@example.org and enter Delete in the Subject field.
- WhitePages.com - To remove a listing, search for it at WhitePages.com. Then click on Is this you? Remove your listing at the bottom of the page.
- AnyWho - Visit http://www.anywho.com/help/privacy
- Addresses.com - http://www.addresses.com/optout.php
- Intelius/Intelifinder - Visit http://www.intelius.com/privacy-faq.php or contact Customer Service at 425-974-6100.
- PeekYou - Visit http://www.peekyou.com/about/contact/optout or e-mail email@example.com.
Other Privacy Boosters
As I mentioned above, even if you get your phone listing removed from all of the directories above, it still might be found by a search elsewhere. Do a search for your phone number at both Google and Yahoo, then follow up on any hits by contacting the site's owner or webmaster. The Whois database can help you find the registered owner of a site if there is no contact info provided.
Another option is to get a new unlisted phone number. Most phone companies charge a small fee for this, but it is very effective because all of the major phone directories update their web databases at least quarterly, and the ones that don't update will have your old incorrect number.
For further reading on privacy and online security, I recommend these articles:
Got something to say about online privacy? Post your comments below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Dec 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Remove Phone Listing (Posted: 15 Dec 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved