When learning how to remove public records your options might seem straightforward at first.
Highly sensitive information is relatively easy to get removed (or de-indexed) from the internet (ie social security numbers, credit card numbers, government ID numbers, etc) because the law is on your side.
Unfortunately, some information that you deem as too private, has no legal recourse for removal. Instead, you have to find alternative steps to reclaim your privacy online.
This is where things can get a bit more tricky.
Even taking care of highly sensitive information doesn’t just magically happen. You have to be proactive about monitoring the information that appears about you online.
So, let’s get into the nitty gritty of removing public records online.
Your personal information lives online
Gone are the days of flipping through Whitepages and filing information requests by snail mail. Today, all kinds of information is not only available about you, but it’s easily accessed online. It seems like nothing is off-limits.
Think about it, your:
- Home addresses
- Homeownership documents
- Voter registration
- Divorce records
And other public records are available to anyone online who types in the right keywords. With that in mind, we’ve created this guide to help you better understand the most effective ways to remove public records about you from the internet.
Why public records of today differ from those of the past
Public records are nothing new, but the level of accessibility and volume of information aggregators online present modern problems.
In the past, an individual would have to physically go to a government office and/or submit a formal request to access this kind of information.
In all likelihood there would be multiple offices, buildings and requests involved.
Online “personal information brokerages” of today, remove all of the red tape and legwork that used to create a natural barrier. Now with the click of a button, anyone can access all of this information instantly without leaving home.
This is what often makes people most uncomfortable. It is also what makes understanding how to remove public records so difficult.
How to remove information from public records while setting realistic expectations
While it’s true that there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce most of the public records accessible about you online, it’s also true that there is always the chance that there will be some remnants of you online.
Even with the help of a legal team, people who are particularly adept at finding information (think private investigators, government agencies, hackers, etc) online, may still be able to.
But, there are a number of precautions and steps that you can take to reduce the chances of the typical internet user finding this kind of information about you online.
How to remove my name from public records in 10 easy steps
Step 1: Google yourself
Start the process by identifying all of the private information that you want to remove or hide online. Search through as many pages as possible for all web results, images, videos, news clips etc that are attached to your name online. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll locate all info that’s available about you online, but it will give you a strong sense of prioritizing the records you want to get rid of!
If finding and tracking these kinds of results seems a bit overwhelming, sign up for BrandYourself’s free DIY Reputation Management Software which automatically scans search results for your name and flags potentially damaging or private search results. .
Step 2: Change your address and phone number
No, we’re not suggesting that you move to a new home just because of a few invasive search results. Instead, get a P.O. Box or head to UPS and get their version of a post office box. This way you can attach a mailing address to most records and it can differ from your home address.
Additionally, consider getting a phone line that’s used exclusively for this type of documentation or business purposes. This can range from a single landline (if people still do that), or a free/inexpensive number from services like Google Voice, whatsapp or Skype.
Step 3: Start a business
You don’t have to go full on Bezos-mode if that’s not your style. Instead, investigate whether or not forming an LLC (limited liability corporation) would make sense as a means of detaching your personal information from public records attached to properties that you own or rent. Make sure to do your research and consult with a professional.
Step 4: Visit the county clerk’s office
Before you visit, make sure you check out the hours, and any suggestions for forms of id to bring. Additionally, there are a number of request forms that you can obtain to fill out from the local county clerk’s website.
Once that’s resolved, be prepared to ask for the following information:
- Permission to review all public records related to you
- What information is allowed to be removed/redacted/modified from these records
- Which documents can include your “new address”
From here, request that all information that can be removed/redacted/modified is. Your telephone number and most of your social security number should be removed or at least partially obscured on most records in question.
Some of the records kept by the County Clerk include:
- Marriage licenses
- Court records
- Deeds and mortgages
- Old wills
- Probate cases
- Government surveys
- Civil circuit files
- Birth certificates
- Death certificates
Most of these records are publicly accessible for free or a nominal fee, so make sure that you are thorough when it comes to examining your own public records!
Also, don’t forget to ask about the UCC database! This is the Uniform Commercial Code database and it deals with records related explicitly to property ownership and Financing statements. This is something that you may also be able to look up on your state’s “.gov” website. So feel free to find out what you can online before your in-person visit.
There’s a pretty good chance that your social security number could show up on some of these records! So make a point to ask about this particular database.
Once you’ve reviewed and discussed all of these records with the clerk, make sure to furnish any additional information needed from formal request forms to updates on your end (namely your new P.O. box address – or a phone number different from your personal number). Follow up as needed.
Step 5: Take a trip to the DMV
Or at least give them a call. Find out if legally you’re allowed to change your address to that of a P.O. or UPS Box. If so, head on over and make the change. That way, in the future, it’s more likely that this address will be attached to your name in legal documentation instead of your actual home address.
Step 6: Make the rounds
While it’s definitely worth a call ahead, think of other publicly funded places where your address is part of the ID. Places like:
- Public Library
- Public Pool
- Unemployment office
- Parks and Rec offices
Ask if you can update the address with the P.O. or UPS Box that you’ve just started renting.
Step 7: Request removal from information brokerage services
When it comes to dealing with exposed private information, you can now focus your attention to data brokerage services online. Some of these include sites like:
These are data aggregation sites and users pay to find out as much information about other people in one place as possible. This information can vary in nature, but most of these sites provide an opt out request form. Examine the website to find out exactly how to go about the process. Naturally, most of these sites don’t make it easy.
You’ll likely have to send a request via fax that includes a copy of documentation that identifies you as you! This is to ensure that they are removing the correct information from the database. However, feel free to redact your image or key ID#s – just read the details of the site carefully. You don’t want your removal request to result in exposure of more personal info!
And if you have trouble with certain sites removing your information, the law may be on your side (depending on the information that they’re sharing). Sensitive information that can lead to fraud or identity theft (like social security numbers and bank account numbers) must be taken down. You can submit a takedown request to Google, or even enlist the aid of a legal team. And if you live in the EU or Argentina, you also have the protections of the right to be forgotten.
Step 8: Expedite the removal process
Unfortunately, this can be a time consuming process if you don’t come up with a system. Look for a removal request template, and keep track of when you send these requests. Consider setting up alerts to remind you when you should check back in with these various requests you’re sending. Avoid requests getting taking longer than necessary by staying organized and setting up a schedule for yourself for checking on the status of these requests.
Step 9: Review privacy settings
This should be a regular part of your digital health. Stay up to date with the personal information that you choose to share on various accounts online. If you are required to store information like a phone number or mailing address, make sure to update it to the new information that isn’t reflective of your primary phone number and home address. Whenever you get alerts saying that a website you use is updating their privacy agreement… make sure that you review your settings. While the information you share doesn’t necessarily fall in the realm of “public records”, there’s a pretty good chance that by using the site you’re agreeing to your data being tracked and sold to other companies. So limit the amount of personal information you use when creating an account.
Step 10: Build your brand and suppress
Enlisting the help of lawyers is not guaranteed to work and will likely be expensive. However, every case is different, so it may be worth it to you to consider the help of an attorney. However, do your homework and make sure that they are not paid by the offending sites.
Whether you choose to include the justice system in your action plan or not, we suggest that you focus on steps that you can control.
Removing public records with our DIY tool
Another great way to make the process of removing public records easier is by signing up for a free DIY account.
This gives you instant access to our reputation management software which monitors and tracks your online reputation. This means that any new public records that might show up will be flagged and brought to your attention.
Also, our proprietary technology also shows you how to build and protect your online presence and privacy step by step. By creating a strong personal brand online, you’re not only boosting your professional earning potential but also decreasing the likelihood that people will see exposed private information when they search for your name online.
While dealing with public records can make you feel vulnerable, it is within your power to reduce and remove sensitive information about you from the internet. It’s definitely a process, and cannot be completed in a day, but don’t give up. Keep track of the steps you take and celebrate progress.
Following the steps above is how to remove your information from public records online. While you may not be able to get rid of everything, you can significantly reduce the information that’s out there and the likelihood that anyone will see it.
Don’t have time? Let us do the work for you. If this whole process seems overwhelming, reach out to a Reputation Advisor by calling (646)-863-8226 or scheduling a consultation to discuss the best option for you from our managed services packages.