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Doxxing defense: Remove your personal info from data brokers

Ken Gagne | Nov. 21, 2014
Many women gamers and developers, as well as those who support them, havelately come under attack from online trolls. A common intimidation tactic that trolls use is "doxxing," or publicly exposing their targets' personal details, including home address, phone number and even financial records.


Opt-out form:

Verification needed: Email address

Promised turnaround time: Up to 72 hours

My opt-out result: Effective

PeopleSmart is one of only two services on this list that requires you create an account in order to opt out. Once you find your record via the search box on the opt-out page, click "This is Me," create your account and confirm that you want to opt out; the service will send you a confirmation email.

If you do not have a record with PeopleSmart, you can request a manual opt-out by providing your contact information. Note that the company says, "It can take up to 7 days for us to process this type of request."

While PeopleSmart did remove its listing for Ken Gagne, it retained three additional listings for Kenneth Gagne. Once I'd created an account for Ken, I had to find and use a separate opt-out form for these variations on my name.

After you've done your opting out, be sure to adjust your account settings to not receive promotional emails.


Opt-out form:

Verification needed: None

Promised turnaround time: Up to 10 days

My opt-out result: Ineffective is a paid service, but its search engine gives you a free glimpse of what it knows about you. In my case, it's an address I lived at 20 years ago and the names of everyone in my immediate family — including someone a relative was briefly married to more than a decade ago.

To opt out of, go to the opt-out form and submit your contact details. Despite the lengthy turnaround period, my first request was not effective. I've submitted a second one and have also taken advantage of the option of mailing a hard copy of my request, with which I included a printout of my result in the search engine.


Opt-out form:

Verification needed: Email address

Promised turnaround time: 24 hours "in most cases"

My opt-out result: Effective

Opting out of BeenVerified is pretty painless. Submit your name and state to its opt-out form; if you find a matching profile, you can have it removed by verifying your email address.

Intelius and subsidiaries

Opt-out form: for Intelius; others below

Verification needed: Government-issued ID

Promised turnaround time: 714 days for Intelius; see others below

My opt-out result: Effective

Intelius is the parent company of many data brokers including PublicRecords360 and ZabaSearch, each of which must be opted out of individually. Fortunately, the process for each is similar. Unfortunately, it's the most onerous and aggressive process of any broker on this list, requiring a copy of your government-issued ID. You can block out your photo and driver's license number — only your name, address and birthdate are needed. But this means you can opt out using only the address on your current license; if your license is outdated, or if you want to remove an older address from the Intelius database, you're out of luck.


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