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If you've ever Googled yourself before, you might have found not only the links to your social media but to sites you have no connection to as well. If you have, you might've thought that to be creepy. But what many people don’t know is that there is an entire business for collecting and selling your personal information.

Naturally, you want your name off this business’s lists. Or, at the very least, you want to avoid information on you being so easily found. After all, it’s not just about your privacy, but security as well. There are comprehensive guides available to help you remove public information, thereby safeguarding your online privacy.

The Different Types of Websites You'll Find Your Information On

When you Google yourself, you'll usually find links to these three types of websites:

  • People search sites: These publish all kinds of personal information like your marital status, email address, current city, place of work, relatives, and school you went to. However, the data is not always correct and up-to-date.
  • Court websites: Sites containing court records (both civil and criminal) on different cases that are both complete or in progress. These sites are usually sorted into different counties or cities.
  • Business directories: These work similarly to people-search sites but focus on your education and professional background. They usually disclose your work history and current place of employment.

Removing your information from court websites is more complex than removing it from people search sites and business directories. So, let's start with the simpler set of steps.

Remove Your Information from People Search Sites

Websites that provide people search services utilize public records, including court data, and data brokers to gather information. But they also rely on your online activity - social media accounts, forums, news, press releases, company websites - to find everything associated with your name.

Thankfully, people search sites typically have opt-out processes:

  1. Find an opt-out form: Some sites hide them and make them hard to locate, but you can usually find the “Do not sell my personal information” or “Remove record” URLs in the footer or your profile page.
  2. Fill out the form: Be clear about the information you want to remove - include the URL or ID number if applicable.
  3. Monitor the results: Keep an eye on your email inbox and the website itself to see if they honor your request. If they do not, you could force the removal by hiring a lawyer to send a letter to them.

The same steps can be applied to business directories.

Note that if you're concerned about managing your online privacy, you have to repeat this process every few months, as people search sites are relentless about reposting data.

Incogni Remove Data

Removing Your Information from Court Websites

Court websites don't gather data from social media sites. Instead, they gather it from public court records.

On regular court websites linked to a city or county, you can ask to remove personal information if you have a valid reason. For example, if the information on the court record puts you in danger or is outdated or incorrect.

The catch is that you'll need to argue with the courts that the information is outside the public interest to know. So, if the court records show you doing something illegal, it will be harder to remove that information. To improve your chances, remove specific details (such as event locations or medical records discussed) instead of the whole record.

If applicable, consider expunging or sealing your court records, as it will help with removing them from public view in general.

Removing Your Information from the Dark Web

The dark web includes a hidden network of websites that are nearly impossible to trace. Besides login credentials exposed through data breaches, the dark web might list personal information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses. Criminals can find your information and commit identity theft and all sorts of scams, destroying your financial future.

Naturally, there are no opt-out forms on the dark web. Once your information is there, it's basically impossible to remove. In these cases, your best bet is prevention.

Tips for Securing Your Information on the Internet

Cybersecurity specialists advise taking steps to protect your online security, similar to how doctors recommend taking care of your health to avoid emergency rooms. Here are some tips you can start following today:

  • Keep your social accounts private: Social media platforms are publically searchable by default. By making them private, you limit what the public can find about you and your life.
  • Avoid public courts: Civil and criminal court cases become public data after you go through these systems. Private alternatives, like arbitrage and mediation, will keep your disagreements private.
  • Stick to secure sites: Sites without the "s" at the end of the "http" aren't secure. HTTPS sites keep your digital connections secure, preventing hackers from gathering your data.
  • Know who you share your information with: When communicating with people on social media, through email, and other platforms, confirm who they are. A big part of online privacy is knowing who you share your information with to prevent it from spreading to unwanted parties.
  • Keep an eye on search engine results for your name: Regularly look yourself up on various search engines to see what comes up. This will allow you to proactively detect pages that expose your information and take action to remove them.


The best way to maintain your digital privacy is by managing it before your information gets spread. While it's impossible to remain 100% secure, you can take steps to keep sensitive information off of search engines and people search sites quite easily.

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