This is a guest post by Cara Aley.
Google and other search engines are able to pull up a vast amount of information about each of us, much of which we often aren’t even aware exists for public consumption. Interestingly enough, even though we’d like to think that we can remove what we feel is private information from public record, it’s not all that easy.
While some information from registered voter files, property tax assessor files, and other documents, are made public because they provide information in situations such as finding out a property’s actual value or investigating business authenticity. Some information, however, such as your social security number and phone number, you are entitled to have held private. Unfortunately this does require some effort, as you need to proactively make it private.
So what actions can we take that would help to keep our private information more private than it currently might be? Here, we offer a number of options that can help considerably in this effort.
Pay a visit to the county clerk’s office
Your county clerk’s office has an abundance of information about you on file, including voter registration information, business certifications, vehicle registration, court records, and other information.
According to ehow.com, voter registration often contains your phone number, and court records often contain your social security number. Both of these can be removed, and you should ask for them to be removed, as identity theft is far easier with information like a social security number. Items like name, date of birth, and mailing address cannot be removed from your public records.
Change your home address to a PO Box
So that your personal home address is not included in as many public records, obtain a PO Box and start using it.
Make sure your phone number is unpublished. After removing your current phone number from whatever documentation you can, give your telephone service provider a call. They can provide you with an unpublished phone number and address for additional privacy.
Aim to suppress negative search links
Studies show that most people, when conducting an internet search, do not look past the first page of search results. So ensuring that information you wish not to have seen by the masses moved to the second page of search results or beyond is smart.
To do this, employing simple tactics like signing yourself up for social media sites (which you do not have to fully engage in, in order to keep your privacy), is a good idea. These sites tend to be highly search engine optimized, so if you have a profile with your name in it on any of them, it will likely appear in your search engine results. Examples of sites you can create profiles on include Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest.
Creating social media profiles can help immensely in your link suppression strategy.
Employ a service to monitor and manage your online reputation
These services can tell you the moment information gets published about you in an ongoing attempt to monitor your online presence. Whether or not you choose to do anything with this information is up to you.
Many of these services offer the link suppression services already discussed, as well as other tactics for ensuring that your private information is seen as little by the public as possible.
As you can see, there is a great deal of information that is still available for public consumption, regardless of the hoops you try to jump through to prevent this. This is mostly due to the Freedom of Information Act, which is intended to allow us to monitor our government more than it is to monitor one another!
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of our private information that is made publicly available, but by taking proactive measures to remove or hide this information, we can go a long way in protecting our overall privacy. Some of these measures have been mentioned in this article. All it requires is a bit of extra effort on your behalf, but we can probably all agree that it’s far better to be safe than sorry.