Do you ever wonder how your abuser knows about what is going on at your place of work, where you have moved, who you know, …? While social media is a major piece of how abusers find current information about victims, abusers also use online name searches through sites like google, Bing, and yahoo. These sites pull up information from search engines like people search, classmates.com, and public records. These programs search the internet for all of the information about you to create a public profile that they share. The collected data could include your home and work addresses, phone numbers, and links to other people.

The internet may seem overwhelming and uncontrollable, but there are things you can do to remove your information from public searches. The information below, from Komando.com - How to remove yourself from people search websites, will help remove your data from the main search engines. Removing yourself from searches will make it more difficult for your abuser to find current information about you, which could possibly increase their aggression and risk of harm to you. Please only remove yourself as part of your overall safety plan. If you don’t have a plan, contact MSCFV at 1-800-927-4673 to work with our case managers to develop your plan.

Intelius: This is one of the biggest data brokers on the web and owns a large chunk of people search sites like Classmates.com, iSearch, ZabaSearch, Peoplelookup, PublicRecords and many others. If you remove yourself from Intelius, you remove yourself from all of the sites it controls.

  1. Click here and enter your name and email address.
  2. When you find your records, click Select and Continue.
  3. On the next page, enter your email address to confirm your identity and fill in the CAPTCHA code. Then, click Continue.
  4. Find and Open an email from the sender Intelius and Click the included link. The link will expire after 24 hours. If the email is not in your inbox, check your spam folder.
  5. You will receive a confirmation email with a reference number once the process is complete. It can take up to 72 hours for the opt-out to fully process.
  6. After 72 hours have passed, look yourself up again on Intelius. If your information is still showing after you got your confirmation, send an email to CUSTSERV@intelius.com and include the confirmation number you received.

BeenVerified: This website is a major hub for people searches and probably contains a significant amount of information on you. This includes your full name, phone number and street address. To remove your information from BeenVerified completely, follow these steps:

  1. Visit http://www.beenverified.com/app/optout/search. Search via first name, last name and state.
  2. Click the green “Search” button. On the results page, you can filter by city and age if you don’t see yourself.
  3. When you find your listing, click to select it.
  4. On the Opt-out request page that opens, enter your email address and check the blue optional checkbox. Fill out the required fields and verify the captcha to prove you’re not automated. Then, click the green “Send Verification Email” box.
  5. Check your inbox and look for an email from the sender Privacy with the subject [BeenVerified] Opt-Out Verification.
  6. Open the email and click the link inside to confirm. Removal won’t be immediate. It could take several days to weeks before your information vanishes.

On Facebook, adjust the following settings to restrict your profile:

  1. Open Settings and click Privacy.
  2. Find Who can see your future posts? and click Edit. Choose specific audience settings.
  3. Locate Limit Past Posts to pick and choose who can access your old posts.
  4. Find Who can see your friends list? and click Edit. Choose either Friends or Only me.
  5. Locate Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? Click Edit. Clear out the checkbox that lets search engines access your profile.

On Instagram:

  1. Open your profile and tap the three-line icon in the corner.
  2. Tap the Settings icon.
  3. Tap on Privacy, followed by Account Privacy.
  4. Toggle Private Account to set your account to private.

On Twitter:

1.    Click here to open privacy and safety settings

2.    Under the section Tweet privacy, check the box next to Protect my Tweets.

3.    Tap Save near the page bottom. Enter your Twitter password to confirm the change.

Final Tip:

One of the easiest ways of making sure your abuser can not access information about you online is to make sure it is not posted in the first place. Make sure to select firm privacy settings on whatever sites you use. Don’t click on links in emails that you do not know who specifically sent them. When given the option, like after making a purchase at an online shop, deny permissions for them to share your purchase information.

If you have other ideas on how to protect personal information, send them to info@mscfv.org to be included in updated tip sheets for victims.

Other Resources: For more information about people searches and internet safety, check out:

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

https://vownow.org/2020/10/the-dangers-of-people-search-sites/

Free Financial Literacy Training for Victims of Domestic Violence working with MSCFV. Classes in June. Talk to Your Case Manager or email Dawn@mscfv.org.