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New Site Displays ALL Of Your Personal Info

Upon launching the Spokeo website, they cleverly remind you that “it’s not your grandma’s phonebook,” which is not only a hacky reference but also literally true: the old meatspace phonebooks didn’t automatically expose all of your private information like age, income, home value, credit score, relationship status and map to your house. Who the Eff are these freaks? How did they get ALL of your info? I don’t know, but all of mine was there. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to remove yourself from the database of these privacy rapists currently thriving in Zuckerberg’s America.

1. Goto Spokeo.com

2.Enter your name and city in the search field

3. Suppress your shout of “Holy CRAPSTAINS!!!” when you see how much of your info is displayed

4. Copy the URL

5. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see “Privacy” in the footer links. Click it.

6. Paste the URL in the field underneath “To remove a listing from Spokeo…”

7. You’ll have to enter an email (sucky, I know) but do what I do and use a secondary one that you only give out to list managers. Try to AVOID giving them your primary email addy. No one has confirmed whether or not they’re phishing for emails, but I wasn’t going to leave the detailed info they had on me so I gave them the dummy address. Extortion much? Unfortunately, they limit the number of listings you can remove to two per email to “prevent abuse”. Really? Could that be any more abusive than displaying all of someone’s personal info??

8. Click “Remove Listing”

9. Check your email; the removal confirmation from Spokeo should come immediately

10. Click after “To complete the removal process…”

11. Celebrate that you have pulled your info off yet another service that took it from you, and rest until the next such battle with some other similar site, likely in an hour or so

UPDATE: Turns out the site it a couple of years old. Also, the veracity of personal information varies from person to person. For me it was SHOCKINGLY accurate. Other folks even found pictures on the site that came from their as-private-as-they-could-make-it Facebook accounts, along with links to family members. Still, other folks either report no listing or old info. In any case, it’s worth a look.

2nd UPDATE: When you’re done, go into your browser prefs and search cookies for “spokeo”, then delete them. Submitted by the hilariously named user “Obvious Point” in the comments.

Comments

  1. John says:

    Search for JUST a last name. It looks like it scours just about every place you could possibly post personal information, and it builds each profile from there.

  2. Teresa Lee says:

    There’s an entry on snopes.com about this, saying it’s true that they collect your data but removing the listing here doesn’t take your info back from the third party sources that gave it to them in the first place and possibly they are collecting email addresses.

    http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/spokeo.asp

  3. It’s not that Spokeo–or any other “white pages” site expects you to buy your own info report… or even anyone else’s report . (Why would you unless you’re a detective, creditor, bounty hunter or con artist?)

    Rather, I suspect the real money comes from affiliating with the “reputable” privacy protector company that you can click through to join to go and eliminate such listings from other such white pages sites.

    Reality is, certain bits of information are a part of public record…which in ye olde days of paper and pen, took more work and motivation to go looking for. And a lot of it is also information that each individual put out there on social sites, naively thinking that what happens on (Face Book, MySpace, etc) stayed there.

    Be Aware: If your info on a social site is public (eg Facebook) it will show up on Spokeo and any other such site the next time they crawl the web. You’d have to change your public vs privacy setting (and hope it really works).

    Also Be Aware: Having accurate private info online is understandably scary, but even inaccurate private info made public can have negative consequences so don’t assume that because you know it is false, that anyone looking into you will know that it is false.

  4. Irina says:

    They didn’t know anything about me! Probably because I’m not in the US.

  5. eh says:

    what’s really funny is that they have 4 DC addresses for “Barack Obama” and none of them are the white house. there are also a bunch of listings for “Luke Skywalker” and “Saddam Hussein”

  6. stephen says:

    they ain’t got nothing on me! oh shit, does that me i don’t exist? oh well i guess ill go have an identity crisis over there in the corner!?

  7. smartbunny says:

    They’ve got like 4 addresses for me, none of them correct anymore. But it goes back like 10 years.

  8. barb says:

    Thank you for the, yet again, helpful and informative post.

    I was shocked at the detailed expose of my personal life. And imagine my surprise to discover that I have “1 child” !!!

    This just reaffirms my paranoia of the http://www... If only highly addictive websites (ahem, Nerdist.com) would stop luring me back in…sigh…I might stand a chance of untangling myself from the sticky web.

  9. BP says:

    10minutemail.com

    It creates a temporary email address for you that lasts for only 10 minutes. Great for things like this.

  10. Chris Hardwick says:

    Great tip Corrin! Also, NO ONE should pay ANYTHING to this site. It’s easy enough to give out a secondary email but you do not want to give them money and more of your personal info!!!

  11. SJB says:

    Married women should search on various versions of their name. I used to hyphenate my maiden name with my husband’s name, so I found a listing under that variant as well as the simpler version I use now. The good news is, that one was old information. Another factor is that people have to pay $2.95 a month to access this service, so people may not use it as much as possible. I refused to pay to see what they have on me, although some of it was old info. Still, thanks for pointing this out so we can go through the process of removing what’s there. I’m guessing we should check back periodically to be sure they haven’t added us back in.

  12. Corrin says:

    Here’s a useful 10 Minute temporary email address perfect for stuff like this. Note too that they’ll give you more time if you need it. http://10minutemail.com/10MinuteMail/

  13. Keely says:

    It doesn’t seem to “do” Canadians, although it did find my email and therefore some Photobucket photos. But anybody could find that.

  14. Jen says:

    ::fist pump:: it doesn’t have anything for us Canadians!

  15. Jeff says:

    I went to the site, it had some limited info. To get all of the info I had to pay for it. Did anyone have to do that? I did not see that mentioned in the step by step.

  16. sweatymonkey says:

    Thanks for the tip! I went on there and the info was pretty accurate. It even had pictures. It was mostly old stuff, but, still…freaky.

  17. Mouse says:

    If you’re under 18 and your information is on that site, report them to EU Safe Harbor or COPPA. It’s illegal.

  18. Jack says:

    i wonder if i should contact them asking them if they want to spare me the extra 60k a year so that their numbers will be more accurate. you know just to be nice.

    overall i found this to be normal, i’m more or less listed as an alias for my father, like somehow i’m not a real person

  19. heath says:

    it didn’t find me. I mean, NOTHING — not by legal name, name i go by, nothing. Um…am I imaginary? I’m happy about it (does this mean I done good with my facebook privacy settings??) but..I was all prepped for freakout mode!

  20. Chris Hardwick says:

    Hey Indigo! I didn’t mean to use a fake, non-working email address, just a secondary one. I have an extra gmail account set up that funnels in through my gmail and gets pulled into a specific folder but is only given out to list managers. I can still access the info, but it’s sort of like one step away from a spam box. This way I don’t care who gets a hold of it, cuz it’s dedicated to crap.

  21. Anonne says:

    I deleted myself from this site about a year ago, but they’ve got me again under a nickname. I blocked cookies from them, so can’t captcha during the removal process. Getting out of their system, if I remember correctly, involved some stupid temporary logic.. they’d send you a cookie saying “I opt out” and then none of their partners would collect your data. As soon as the cookie was deleted, you were fair game again. Seriously. I’m just letting it go because their info on my is out of date by years anyway.

  22. thunderhenge says:

    It seems to indicate that I make $981K per year. I wish. I wish I got a raise so I could make 5% of that. Unfortunately, my ex probably believes I do make that, hence his unwillingness to help his daughters with expenses.

  23. FlyingDutchOven says:

    I was just on a fact finding tour of myself and found the same frightening info on Spokeo. There’s also places like Pipl and many others that collect histories about people. I think I read somewhere it’s based on utility records. Anyway I visit Nerdist and lo and behold an article/solution for the site on the same day.

    Thank you. Seriously.

  24. D says:

    Thanks for exposing this ridiculous affront to people’s privacy, Sir Hardwick! I did not find any of my info, but I did find my parents, my wife and most of my in-laws….and boy was I pissed!!!
    Is this site even working within the parameters of legality?!

  25. Mike says:

    Mine was accurate, including my street address, which I’ve worked to keep hidden, compliments of a stalker. I always use a secondary email address when I’m concerned about privacy, as I was in this case. It took several hours for the confirmation email to arrive, but it did eventually get there.

  26. becki says:

    Hmmm…. It wouldn’t let me use my spamcop email address.

  27. creesto says:

    The best part of my listing is that it still showed me still married to my exwife at our old address (at which she still lives) but it also had a separate listing for me at my current address with my wife BUT it showed her as my daughter with a Mystery Wife of No Name! Granted, she is 20 years my junior but man did I laaauuuuggghhhh!

  28. Reginald says:

    Uh, to get any of the information they ask a subscription charge! And/or you can buy the program “Reputation Defender” to REALLY protect your info. Obviously a marketing device (that probably works). I’d investigate the “Rep Def” to see what’s going on. Oh, I did delete some listings as easily as you instructed.

  29. Philip G says:

    It’s just public info. All the stuff he got on me was just that. It had my address no problem; but a simple search in the public records of Dallas, TX will get that, too.

    I didn’t sign up to see how detailed my info was, but I could tell a few things were old. My email turned up more info on me than my name, but my email info showed me in Plano still (about 5 years old).

    Your only real option to this isn’t to black list yourself, but to fix the source information. Aggregate sites exist, and will always exist. As long as there’s a way for them to get your info, you’ll be stuck in a non-stop race of blocking the messenger. You need to fix the source of this information. Facebook privacy settings are wonky. You actually trust stuff on there to be completely private? LOL

    I’d only be concerned if they started pulling my my social security number, credit reports, etc. Stuff that actually does matter. And in that case, I’ll need to know their source so I can fix the source.

    Freaking out of Spokeo is killing the messenger. They got your info through public means.
    (Unless they are truly an evil company using backend private deals to gain your private info — which I highly doubt.)

  30. glynes says:

    Thankfully, I don’t exist. But this has been added to my monthly ‘place to check’ list just in case.

  31. Rach says:

    Definitely scary! I searched my name and my mother’s name, and while I wasn’t there, she was, along with fairly accurate info about her paycheck, residence, etc. How in the world can a website like this exist? My mother has no facebook, and doesn’t use email that much, her only online presence is amazon. That must be where they got so much information about her, but how awful that no matter how hard we try to remain private on the net, our information is still so easily found!

    Thanks so much for the info, Chris! Much appreciated!

  32. Gino says:

    If you find to much information about you on Spokeo is that you give to much infos about you in the social network websites. I don’t give to much informations on my social website and didn’t find to much infos about me. I can myself do some programme with a lot of API to find all these informations about someone.

  33. James says:

    If you do a search for your name, even if it is removed, they still display the amount of results in the header, even though they don’t list the info outright. My guess is that if you are willing to pay some money, they will show anyone those hidden results.

    Good luck

  34. I can’t see any easy way to remove myself from the uk version of the site. I can’t even see all my own details without registering!

    They have my housemates partly spookily right and partly stupidly wrong. I wonder about the rest of the information on me that I can’t see.

  35. I’ve been pretty careful, and spokeo can’t find anything on my from my name, but my email is a fairly different story. I wanted to remove that information, so I followed your steps. You advocate using a junk email for this, but when you are trying to delete information on an email, you have to use that email as the confirmation for the deletion.

    Sorry if somebody has mentioned this before,
    Indigo.

  36. Ward says:

    I noticed that some of the “personal” information was coming from my Amazon purchases.

  37. Chase Roper says:

    ALSO!

    Could you imagine if someone actually paid for the complete info? I would if I worked at a collection agency or something.

  38. Chase Roper says:

    DAMMIT. I removed myself from here a year ago and it’s all BACK AGAIN. They have my old address right because I listed it on a spec script that I ended up posting on Scribd. So check this place often I guess.

  39. widogmom says:

    THANK YOU. I had no idea all this stuff was out there. I went through the steps and it did remove our info, but it took awhile – I think because you had just tweeted this and everybody and their cousin was probably shouting HC and jumping on it. The picture they had was way too up-close-and-personal, and would have given people intel that would be very useful in knowing when we are gone and robbing us blind. Again, THANK YOU and Happy New Year!

  40. Damon says:

    I found mine ~ anyone looking for ME would be so misguided, it’s almost insuring me more privacy than I had in the first place.

    It’s the very idea, though. I don’t believe that Spokeo should compile information and release it behind the public’s back. Even the people from the old “meat shelf” phone book used to ask if you wanted your address listed. This group put together a wonder land for Stalkers.

    Despite the incorrectness, I feel that I should remove the information on me – just in case they become more accurate. I can see they just blindly post whatever they’ve got.

  41. Lady Jay says:

    It has tons of current info for me, but every time I copy the URL into the space on the privacy page it tells me “We could not locate a directory listing for the URL provided.” Aaaaargh.

  42. Virginia says:

    I had info from almost every apartment I have lived in since I have been in the area. I only had one deleted(current info). The other info is incorrect now so suck it.

  43. SeattleGuy says:

    Thanks for the step-by-step instructions.

  44. Patti says:

    Thanks for the info, Chris. I went there and removed my info. They had a picture of my house!! Unbelievable.

  45. nothere says:

    I couldn’t be located. Works for me!

  46. Red Bakersen says:

    So glad I still don’t exist.

  47. Ryan says:

    Mine was old, an inaccurate. I found my dad’s and his hobbies were “travel sports”. After a minute of thinking about this I remembered that in June he had competed in the handicapped games in Denver. It frightened me that they knew that, but it also said he was married (false) lived in an apartment (false) and made 165k a year (definitely false). So I’m okay with it.

  48. Lincoln says:

    I was on there but my info was incorrect, so suck it, Spokeo! Ha!

  49. Jet says:

    I like the people who are commenting with their full name on a blog post about privacy issues.

    The information is out there. Giving one site your email address to *maybe* remove it from their server wont help you. Just be careful about where you type your name, birthday, and location. But most likely the damage is already done. They should be teaching kids how to avoid giving away private information online.

  50. Margaret says:

    No confirmation email, even though it’s been almost 15 minutes and I’ve reloaded the page several times (I gave them my “spam” account, the Yahoo one). But I suspect they’ve had a lot of “privacy” requests today, especially since you made Twitter’s “Top Tweets” list.

    But I’m thinking maybe I should let it go; they got a couple of pieces of info right, but some are *really* wrong. And there’s no photo. I’m glad I got rid of that Facebook account before I did anything with it; it was basically useless, anyway.

    I think some of the other replies are right. I’ve seen information like this on other “white pages” sites, and it’s the same stuff; it seems like it’s just a way to get you to *buy* the rest of it. But after seeing what it had on me, I wouldn’t send these people any money – why pay for *wrong information*?