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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.

For Intelius itself, search for your public profile and, if you find it, go to the opt-out form and submit a scan of your ID.

PublicRecords360 also has an online opt-out form, but note that the form is powered by Google Docs. If you don't want corporate behemoths (including Google) to know your identity, then I recommend faxing your ID to 425-974-6194. (The opt-out form also says you can email your request to — but the fine print states, "Requests for opt out will not be processed over the phone or via email.") PublicRecords360 says it will take 7 to 14 days to process the opt-out request.

While my opt-out requests with both Intelius and PublicRecords360 were effective, as with PeopleSmart, I needed to find and opt out of all variations on my name at each service.

Finally, ZabaSearch — a formerly independent service that has been acquired by Intelius — accepts requests only by fax, after which they take 4 to 6 weeks to process. There is no form or template to fill out for these requests, but again, a copy of your state ID is needed. I suggest finding your profile and including the URL with your request.

I didn't have a listing at ZabaSearch, nor did my father, so I can't report on the effectiveness of opt-out requests.

Intelius owns other data brokers, but these are the three that my sources referenced most often as likely to have my contact information.

US Search

Opt-out form:

Verification needed: Government-issued ID

Promised turnaround time: Within 714 days of receipt of proof of identity

My opt-out result: N/A

US Search's database includes "addresses and phone numbers, social networking profiles, plus detailed background information available through public records." It used to charge for its opt-out service, which it calls PrivacyLock; now this service is free. But like ZabaSearch, it requires the offline submission of a copy of a government-issued ID.

After you enter your name, city, state and age in the initial PrivacyLock form and find your name in the results, click "This Is the Record I Would Like to Block." Then you must print a cover sheet with your record number on it, and fax or snail-mail it along with a copy of your ID.

Neither my father nor I had a listing at US Search, so I can't report on the effectiveness of opt-out requests.

Opt-out form:

Verification needed: None

Promised turnaround time: 1 hour

My opt-out result: Effective

To opt out of PeopleFinders, go to its opt-out page and search for your name, city and state. There may be multiple matches — for example, PeopleFinders found one record for me, but four for my father. Even though its privacy policy says the site "will only accept opt-out requests directly from the individual whose information is being opted-out," no verification is required, so for each match, I clicked "This is me" then "Opt out my info."


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