This article describes how to remove information from Google and other online public records, such as your personal details, in order to protect you from identity theft, safeguard your credit rating and defend your online reputation.
In the past if people wanted to access your public records, they had to visit the county clerk’s office. Today, many government documents containing highly sensitive personal data are readily available on the Internet.
Even the Pentagon has had trouble keeping its classified documents off the Internet, but there are some concrete steps you can take to minimize access to your personal information. Hopefully, by the time you finish reading this article, you'll have some idea on how to remove information from public records and other online data aggregators.
Controlling Your Online Reputation & Personal/Private Data
Reputation.com has recognized that everyone from individuals to SMB's to CEO's rely heavily on being able to control their online presence & info, and after consulting with leading internet privacy & online reputation experts, have developed specific services and tools to assist in removal, monitoring, improving, defending and repairing online reputations and privacy. As you'll see below we've introduced some initial concepts you'll need to begin improving your online privacy or reputation situation; however we also realize that not everyone has the time and resources to firstly completely understand and secondly manage the whole "online reputation & privacy" environment themselves. To this end Reputation.com has developed two specific services ReputationDefender® and MyPrivacy®, that can a help you remove, monitor, improve, manage, & repair your online presence.
This is a service that we recommend for all individuals as well as public figures. MyPrivacy offers a number of different levels of service, from simple (& free) monitoring through to a fully managed privacy service, with the Exec package designed for those that are constantly in the public eye and need full and complete online anonymity. As you interact online, join programs, book vacations, engage social platforms or simply subscribe to newsletters etc, your personal info is being carefully stored and aggregated by vast number of companies that in turn provide and sell this data to anyone. To gain control of or simply remove your personal information online, MyPrivacy & ExecPrivacy puts you back in charge.
ReputationDefender® is a very specific service, and unlike MyPrivacy is not something that is recommended (or needed) by most individuals and businesses. ReputationDefender® has been specifically designed for any individual or business that's reputation has been tarnished online through blogs, articles, and review sites by disgruntled clients, enraged friends, or former employees etc. Unfortunately under the law it is virtually impossible to have a court order the removal of online content, however it can be suppressed through techniques that we've perfected though $40+ million in research and development here at Reputation.com. Essentially anyone that Google's you or your business won't look past the first couple pages of search engine results, and if all they find are positive articles, reviews, bio's and other sites then the negative material is substantially mitigated and your reputation will reflect positively on you.
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Securing Your Personal Information Online - Get The Facts
Government records are public information
You can’t have public records entirely removed from the Internet; access is enshrined in the Freedom of Information Act. Public records such as tax liens, registered voter files, business licenses and property tax assessor files are made available for two reasons: They serve as a source of information for consumer confidence issues such as the true value of property or the legitimacy of businesses and professionals, and they’re a powerful way to monitor the actions of government and to keep it accountable.
Since the mid 1990s, states have worked hard to increase the availability of electronic versions of public records. Some states even sell your public records to online people-finder or information brokerage services.
As concerns with privacy protection and identity theft continue to grow, however, governments are adding new protections such as automatic redaction of sensitive information and procedures to have data removed manually. In most cases, however, the default is to keep all information public: The onus falls on you to protect your privacy.
To monitor what information others can find about you, signup for FREE - Click Here.
Visit your county clerk to have your personal information altered or redacted.
In most states, you can have certain types of personal data changed in your public records. You can also have other types of information redacted from the electronic versions of those records. Follow these steps:
- Obtain a post office box. Certain types of records, such as voter registration forms, require an address, but a post office box can be used for many government documents in most states.
- Visit your county clerk and review your public records. Ask what information can be removed, what can be redacted, and what can be changed. On many documents, you’ll be able to have your telephone number and most of your Social Security number redacted. You can also often have your PO box listed as your address.
- Check the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) database at the county clerk’s office. The UCC database lists information on property ownership and liens and may contain your Social Security number. 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.
Following these steps, you can ensure that only essential information is available from government sources. To learn more about how to remove personal information from public records, see these eHow articles: “How to Delete Personal Information From Public Records” and “How to Remove Data from Public Records.”
To monitor what information others can find about you, signup for FREE - Click Here.
Opt out of people-finder and information brokerage services.
Unfortunately, simply changing your public records won’t automatically protect your personal data. There are dozens of information brokerage services that sell or give away your personal information and that will continue to provide the nonredacted version of your public records unless instructed otherwise.
Most of these companies will remove personal information not derived from government documents from their databases, although some require you to make a request in writing and to provide some proof of identification.
Many people-finder services won’t remove information found in public records, however. But if you have already visited your county clerk and had your personal information redacted or altered, you can request that the information brokerage update your record. Subsequently, only the information shown in your current public records will be displayed.
In the unlikely event that an information brokerage refuses to update your information, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC won’t act on behalf of individuals, but if enough complaints are lodged, it may launch an investigation into the business. These are just a few steps on how to remove information from public records.
Control your privacy through online reputation management tools.
Keeping your sensitive personal data private requires regular effort on your part. Information brokerages use automated data collection methods, so whenever something new appears about you, that information will end up in their databases. They may find new information from new public records or by buying it from the companies you use online.
Unless you have the time to proactively monitor every single people-finder site yourself, your best bet is to sign up for a reputation management tool such as Reputation.com’s MyPrivacy product. MyPrivacy does the work of monitoring information brokerages for you, alerting you whenever new findings appear. In addition, MyPrivacy offers a simple, one-click interface for opting out of people-finder services.
By combining the redaction and record-alteration tips above with a subscription to MyPrivacy, you significantly reduce the chances that unscrupulous individuals will be able to access your personal information to hurt you and your family, conduct identity theft, or engage in defamatory activities. MyPrivacy provides comprehensive, real-world privacy protection over the long term, regardless of what protections are ultimately offered by your state government.