Keeping a Low Virtual Profile
On Sunday, my colleague Sara Kehaulani Goo wrote about the growing phenomena of daters running background checks before doling out the first kiss. But just as public sites such as Intelius and US Search allow you to snoop on others, you should consider running a search on yourself to find out how much personal information is floating around out there.
There are a plethora of sites that any halfway-thorough Nancy Drew or Hardy boy could mine to build a complete dossier.
The Wall Street Journal's Michael Totty recently wrote up a handy guide to opting out of such sites. (Subscription required.)
Here's a quick and dirty summary:
- Phone listing Web site 555-1212.com will remove a residential listing if you fill out this form.
- Intelius and related sites such as PeopleFinder.com will let you only temporarily opt out of the results of an Intelius search if you can provide proof of identity to Intelius, 500 108th Ave. NE, 25th FL, Bellevue, WA 98004.
- PublicRecordsNow.com will keep some records offline if you send a letter with your request, name, aliases, address and former addresses, and date of birth to Opt-Out, PublicRecordsNow/Privateeye.com, 15332 Antioch St., Suite 713, Los Angeles, CA 90272.
- You can try to opt out US Search and related sites such as InstantPeopleFinder.com by sending them a written request with your social security number, date of birth, past addresses and aliases at US Search, Opt-Out Program, 600 Corporate Pointe, Suite 220, Culver City, CA 90230.
If you really want to know what you're up against, though, take a seat, take a deep breath and take a look at Wired's amazing tale about David Thomas, a "carder" who worked as a cybercrook for the FBI. (I called it here first: Jason "My Name is Earl" Lee plays Thomas in the movie version.)
The multipart series is worth the time it takes to read. It offers a vivid glimpse into the thriving international market for stolen identities. Most shocking, perhaps, is the revelation that much of this illicit activity takes place under the passive gaze of law enforcement, which prefers to sit things out and wait for bigger fish while consumers and businesses absorb huge financial losses.
If you haven't opted out before you read this story, you will want to afterward.
Have you tried to obliterate your virtual profile? Did it work?
By Annys Shin | February 1, 2007; 8:00 AM ET Privacy
Previous: McDonald's Guessing Game: Where's the Trans Fat? | Next: Would One Food Safety Agency Mean Better Oversight?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Catch me if you can... | February 1, 2007 9:08 AM
Posted by: Dan | February 1, 2007 9:16 AM
Posted by: J.W. Booth | February 1, 2007 9:32 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | February 1, 2007 10:01 AM
Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 1, 2007 10:09 AM
Posted by: Google shadow | February 1, 2007 10:21 AM
Posted by: Chris | February 1, 2007 10:54 AM
Posted by: SSN?? | February 1, 2007 10:55 AM
Posted by: Isit2pee | February 1, 2007 11:18 AM
Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 1, 2007 11:28 AM
Posted by: Chris | February 1, 2007 12:02 PM
Posted by: Dan | February 1, 2007 12:36 PM
Posted by: dc | February 1, 2007 12:52 PM
Posted by: Chris | February 1, 2007 1:12 PM
Posted by: Elle | February 1, 2007 1:24 PM
Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 1, 2007 2:08 PM
Posted by: Chris | February 1, 2007 2:47 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | February 1, 2007 4:50 PM
Posted by: NJ Reader | February 1, 2007 7:05 PM
Posted by: Denny | February 2, 2007 5:26 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.