How to Keep Your Address Off the Internet
Removing your home address from data broker websites should be one of the first things you do if you’re concerned about privacy (at all).
Having your home address listed publicly isn’t a threat in itself — but it opens you up to tons of things to potentially go wrong. Not to mention that it’s just plain creepy. We’ve put together the four steps needed to keep your address off the internet so that you can feel safe again.
Step 1: Do a Google Search to see where your address is posted
The first step is to take stock of where your information is being publicly exposed. If you’ve never done a Google Search of your name, now is a good time to start.
A simple trick is to search for your full name between quotation marks (“”) along with your city and state. So John Doe who lives in Buffalo would search: “John Doe” Buffalo NY.
You’ll likely see several results that include your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or other local new articles. We’ll come back to social media in another article, but for now, you should be looking for all the websites that disclose your name alongside your address or phone. If you don’t see anything, great! You might be one of the lucky few Americans who don’t have their data being sold publicly–but more than likely, you’ll see something that concerns you.
Step 2: Do a deep search for your information across data brokers
Many data brokers don’t have their results directly indexed by search engines. In other words, just because your name isn’t on a Google search, doesn’t mean that it’s off the internet. It’s important to do a ‘deep scan’ of your information across 100+ data brokers.
Option 1: Search each data broker one by one
If you have the time, you should go through each data broker and search if they’re posting your information. For each website, you’ll need to search for yourself and any variations of your identity (e.g. previous addresses, maiden names, aliases, etc). Our favorite list of data brokers is currently available on GitHub — it’s known as the Big Ass Data Broker Opt-Out List.
Option 2: Use a data removal service to search for your address
If you don’t want to bother going through 100+ websites manually, several companies (including our own) will do a deep search for your information for free. This does all the heavy lifting for you.
Before you start, be careful which removal company you give your information to. We’ve done a blog post about how many removal companies are actually run by the very same people posting your information in the first place. Seriously — It’s not a conspiracy.
There are a few reputable companies that will provide you with a free search. We think Atlas is the most in-depth, but we’ll admit that we’re a bit biased. After the search is complete, make sure the results are real. Legitimate companies like Atlas will provide you with screenshots or any details about the information they found. Removal companies that are just cash-grabs will show you a ‘dashboard’ of dead links to empty pages that supposedly contain your information
Step 3: Begin Removals
Now that you know where your information is being posted, you’ll need to jump back and remove each of the records. As you probably imagine, data brokers don’t make it easy to remove information off their websites. But they must allow you to–it’s the law.
We’re currently working on DIY removal guides to walk through the step-by-step process of removing your information from each of the data broker websites. In the meantime, you can search around Google and Youtube for good guides. Be warned, the opt-out might take a while if you’re on more than a dozen or so websites.
If you want a shortcut, you can simply subscribe to Altas to remove each of the records for you (that’s our specialty). We designed Atlas to save you the time and the stress of trying to remove yourself from data brokers. One click and we take care of the rest.
Step 4: Repeat the Process Over Again
We’ll jump straight to the bad news first. The work to remove your address from data brokers is never really done (if you’ve chosen the DIY removal route).
The main issue is data brokers tend to repopulate your address about every 4–6 weeks. Your information is resold and scraped again. Data brokers don’t do a great job ensuring your identity is truly removed forever. As a result, you’ll need to go back every month to check if your information has been reposted.
Your other option is to subscribe to a removal service like Atlas. Here’s where we really shine. We scan for your address every day. We go through every data broker to make sure your information is not being reposted. If we find it, we take care of the opt-out process right away.
If you’re interested in keeping your address private, or if just you’re creeped out by people posting your information online, you can get started with Atlas here. Scans are always free and protection plans start at $8.25 a month.