It was once difficult to find a person’s name, address, and phone number. You either needed to find a phone book for the general area that they lived in and hope their number was listed or write down their information before you lost contact with them. But now, of course, finding a person’s contact information is trivial, no matter where they are, no matter whether or not they even want to be found in the first place.
If you want to remove your information from the White Pages, it is possible, but it may not be easy. This guide will lay out what you need to understand about the companies controlling them, and how to get your information out of the White Pages.
Who controls WhitePages.com?
First, it must be noted that the physical, printed white pages are increasingly an endangered species. Many states view them as wasteful and the phone companies themselves, charged with printing and distributing phone books, view them as an expensive drag on their operating budgets. So, you won’t have to worry too much about the physical white pages; you simply need to request an unlisted number, which on most networks is easily done with a short phone call.
Where does WhitePages.com get its information?
Unfortunately, there’s another White Pages; WhitePages.com, a website that claims to have the largest database of contact information for members of the American public. That is a separate site entirely, run by a private entity. And increasingly, it’s where people go when they want to find you.
Generally, it gets its numbers from phone companies, but the site itself notes that it also collects data from other sources, such as social media, information provided by first-party and third-party applications, and the general Internet. In other words, if it’s posted online, WhitePages.com is probably crawling for it and is probably tying it to your profile.
How is what WhitePages.com does legal?
All the site is doing is collecting, collating, and posting publicly available information. Much of what it offers is simply a matter of public record that could be turned up by any reasonably industrious person with some time on their hands. WhitePages.com just makes it more accessible, which in turn makes erasing your information from the White Pages important.
How accurate is WhitePages.com?
It can be surprisingly accurate, although it’s worth sorting the site from its “corporate partners.” If you look for yourself through the site, much of the information supposedly available actually comes from other sites, such as Instant CheckMate and Spokeo, which have their own set of problems, but are also sites where you have to pay for information and they’re not tied directly to White Pages. You won’t have to worry about erasing that particular information from WhitePages.com.
The good news, for many of us, is that White Pages only lists information that’s already publicly available. So if your number is unlisted, or you have a mobile number, WhitePages.com will generally not list it, as there are legal implications for doing so. It’s actually surprisingly courteous for an information gathering site; others are not quite so scrupulous about following the law.
The key point of concern, for many, is the fact that White Pages will, for example, post a specific address history online for free, as well as include information about people you may know. That not only gives people trying to find you a lot of information to work from, including past addresses and possible friends, it also goes back a surprisingly long way; people who have searched for themselves on White Pages are often shocked by just how many past addresses the site has on file.
Similarly, the small amount of information the site offers on “potential friends” can either be completely wrong, or a little too accurate for comfort; the site seems to use an odd algorithm to determine who you might be friends with.
Either way, if you want to take your information off of White Pages, you’ll need to act quickly, and be prepared to give up an email address.
Deleting your information from WhitePages.com
Fortunately, the deletion process for WhitePages.com is fairly simple, as these things go. There is, however, one problem; you’ll have to register for an account with the site.
This is problematic for many because it means that you’ll be confirming your information is true and correct, even if you plan on removing or hiding it. Unfortunately, though, there’s no other way to remove information from the site. You might want to consider signing up for a “burner” email address that allows you to log into the site, delete the content and walk away.
Regardless of what email address you use, sign up for the site. Then, search for yourself, and click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the listing. This will bring you to the form of the entry with the information filled out.
From there, you can go through and selectively “hide” or change information. In some cases, changing your information may be preferable; if you run a business, for example, you might want to change your phone number to your business line, so you can still be found professionally, but not personally.
The site also offers a “hide all” option, which can remove your information from the eyes of the general public. However, there’s no verification that this information is completely hidden; WhitePages.com may still be selling your information to “corporate partners,” and furthermore, may choose to “unhide” your information at any time it essentially decides to do so. Finally, as we noted, you will have essentially, by your actions, verified your information is accurate, making that information more valuable and seen as more precise by marketers and others looking to get in touch with you whether you want them to or not.
If you want to remove your information from WhitePages.com, but don’t want to violate your privacy to do it, ReputationDefender can help. We’ve spent years refining and updating privacy protection techniques to ensure that you can use the Internet safely and securely. Don’t leave your personal information where anyone can find it: Call ReputationDefender today.