Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday's Tip ~ Is Your Information More Public Than You Want it To Be?

Where do I begin? Something happened this week that I felt I should share with you.  This tip isn't necessarily just for genealogy, but anyone who has a social presence online.

We as genealogists love to get emails from potential cousins, right. That's why my email address is located on my blogs. As much as I love sharing research and getting to know cousins, I still expect a certain amount of privacy. You too, right?

For instance, I don't want my phone number or home address available online just for anyone (especially these days). That is to be given out at my discretion. Am I right?

I received an email from someone and before I had a chance to respond, I got a letter from this person in the mail (talk about impatient!). It wasn't genealogy related. Needless to say I was not too happy. Hubby wasn't too happy either! Imagine getting a letter from some guy we don't know.

He said he found my information on Whitepages.com. Well that got me fuming because our number is unlisted!  So I checked and my number isn't listed, but the address was.

Some of you may be alright with your information out there, but for those who aren't you may want to go to the following sites and get yourself unlisted.

  • AnyWho.com - You will want to run a search for yourself. Click on your name to see the full listing and it will ask if that is you.  Click on "remove listing" and follow the directions. The bummer is that you will have to register to remove your listing.
  • White pages - Same principle here. Once you find yourself and open the full listing click on the button that says "claim & edit".  You will also have to register for this one.
  • Spokeo - I hadn't looked at this site for a while, but when I did it shocked me.  When I searched for my name, it showed the satellite image of my house! It does hide parts of your phone number and address, but there are options to purchase the info. To remove yourself from here, just go to the bottom of the page and click on privacy and follow the directions.

Granted our public information is out there, but it shouldn't be that easy to get at right?  (Unless of course you run a business and want to be found.) After all, I share this household with someone and I need to be respectful of their privacy as well. 

If you can think of any other sites I need to remove myself from, please let me know.

Leslie Ann


  1. Leslie Ann, I don't know if you can remove your address from pipl.com or not but it's my go-to search site when I'm trying to find an address for someone.

    1. Nancy,

      I never heard of pipl.com. Thanks for letting me know about it. That is a great tool!

  2. As a PI I do forensic genealogy, often looking for living descendants vs. deceased ancestors (heir research, connecting war Babies, etc). I must say, private or not, your phone number can easily be uncovered, as well as your address and much more. Not to scare anyone, but public records, really tell a lot! In spite of privacy acts...we are a public society.

    1. I know you're right. I just got creeped out by that letter. It almost made me feel like I was being stalked.

  3. Leslie,
    I think we are all in the internet book of snoops as to say. I don't think we can get away from all of it. Someone is always watching our moves when we are on a social net of any sort. I choose not to do Facebook because your information and photos are not private plus you can get tagged now. I did check out your sites that were in your post and did see our house...that's crazy but were in every Garmin also. Very informative post....keep them coming.
    By the way, as a find a grave volunteer, there are so many gravestones now that list a genealogy line on the back of the loved ones stones...what do you think on that matter? I think in my own opinion that its like a white page listing. Out there for anyone who wants names of the living, right?

    1. I know the public records are out there. There's no getting away from that and it doesn't really bother me. I just prefer to be unlisted and contacted by email.

      I guess the letter I got just creeped me out.

      I don't use my last name on any social sites that I am involved with. That's mainly why it creeped me out. I couldn't figure out how he knew my last name. But then I did some searching and found my last name attached to some sites.

      I don't see anything wrong with the names on the gravestones.



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