How Did They Get My Personal Information?

“Hey, how come <insert person or company here> knows so much about me? And how do I stop it?”

See what you can find out about yourself within publicly available information. Pipl and maltego would be places to start.

  • Pipl collects publicly available information from a growing list of specific sources, on demand.
  • PeekYou and Spokeo also aggregate publicly available information.
  • Maltego collects publicly available information in the background.
  • Perhaps Whozat? as well.
  • eWhois allows you simply enter a website and find out what other websites belong to the same owner. eWhois contains a huge collection of identifiable information of websites. It allows you find websites that use the same AdSense ID, Google Analytics ID, IP address etc. (Reverse IP Lookup, Reverse Adsense ID Lookup, Reverse Google Analytics ID Lookup, Whois Lookup)

If you learn that there is more information shown in Facebook than you are comfortable sharing with anonymous persons, see Controlling your Facebook information: Part 1 and Part 2. There are many, many screens to step through. Note that in addition to the individual “Everyone, Friends of  Friends, Only Friends” settings, there is a Customize setting which permits “Only Me”.

There is a lot of information about you in public sources, typically provided by you. Disclosure laws require the government to make other information, such as voter records and property titles, public. To remove your information, you would need to begin there.

Information propagates from publicly available sources, such as Facebook, and from government sites and joins privately collected information in databases you will not have access to. is the largest personal information search engine on the Internet. Intelius will tell you how to remove your personal information from their database. is the biggest personal information data provider, see their Privacy Policy for details on how to remove your data from Acxiom. sells background checks, $10. In writing, not email, you can request to be removed from their database. Look yourself up first; make a note of the aliases and addresses they report and specify that these are the entries to remove. stores what it has learned from other providers (such as Acxiom). See Google PhoneBook Name Removal. As the site tells you, you are removing yourself from Google’s phonebook database. You can do a search using Google and still find that Anywho,,, Reverse Phone Directory,, and many other sites have your phone number.

Removing your information would be a Herculean (see “Augean Stables”) task. It would be a repetitive task, best accomplished mechanically and automated. You can pay someone, such as ReputationDefender, to do it. That would be a very expensive task.

Consider managing your personal information. Be aware of what you are disclosing and who you are disclosing it to.

See also:

Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

Google Analytics A Potential Threat to Anonymous Bloggers



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