Going through the Whitepages opt out process is extremely important if you value your privacy. Here’s why: Whitepages is one of the largest data brokers/people search sites. Their current website states that they have private information for 275 million people nationwide and that the site receives about 35 million visits per month.
That’s a lot of people searching (and finding) a lot of personal data. You can see why plenty of people have an issue with it. However, most don’t realize that you can opt out and remove your listing from Whitepages without very much effort.
How do you secure a Whitepages opt out the manual way?
If you don’t want to do this automatically and would rather submit the request directly, there are a few things you need to be aware of:
- It will take a little more time
- You will need to opt out of the other sites manually as well
- You’ll have to check back periodically to see when your listing has been removed
If you’re fine with all that, here’s how to do things the old fashioned way.
Step 1: Go to Whitepages and search for your full name and city, state or zipcode.
Step 2: Identify the listing with your information and click “View Details”.
Make sure you’re confident that this is the correct listing before moving forward. If there are two that seem the same you can go back and try the other one, just make sure you remember which you clicked on!
Step 3: Highlight the URL of the profile and right click to copy it to your clipboard.
Step 4: Click here to go directly to the Whitepages opt out form.
Paste the URL of the profile you had copied in step 3 into the opt out form field and click “opt-out”.
Step 6: Verify this is the information you wish to have removed.
Step 7: Provide a reason for why you want to remove your name and listing from Whitepages and then hit “Submit.
Step 8: Provide a valid phone number (a phone you have access to at the moment), check the box affirming you want the information removed, and click “call now to verify”.
Whitepages will auto-dial you with a verification to verify your identity with a phone call. This is a very important step in the Whitepages opt out process. You need to be ready for the phone call so you can secure the opt out. If you miss the call there is a chance that you will have to start the process all over again (some people have reported this issue) so play it safe and be near your phone!
Step 9: Pick up when Whitepages calls (it will be instantaneous) and provide the supplied verification code using your keypad.
This completes your Whitepages opt out and there are no more steps to take on the site. It can take up to 24 hours for the listing and name to be removed from Whitepages’ website.
Opting out of Whitepages Premium
You may notice that there are actually two listings for your name on Whitepages. As we mentioned above, there are standard listings and Whitepages Premium listings which provide access to a SmartCheck background report on a person. In order to remove your info from a Whitepages premium listing, then you will need to submit a support request as shown here:
How does Whitepages get your information?
Whitepages scours the web on an ongoing basis to find names and information to add to its database. They have invested a lot of time and money into this technology and it works extremely well.
Phone companies are the most common source of the personal information you can find on the site. They have very large lists of consumers with their name, address, phone numbers, and email addresses all readily available. These are the main pieces of information that Whitepages goes after when creating a new listing for someone, so naturally they take advantage of this.
Whitepages also looks at other sources when finding their info. Social media sites, third parties, and broadly indexed information on the web are all part of their sources as well. The advantage of this is it makes your Whitepages opt out a little easier since you will be able to identify your listing with more confidence.
Here’s the laundry list of what Whitepages looks for:
- Cellphone and landline numbers
- Physical and mailing addresses
- Legal histories
- Email addresses
- Housing information
- Maiden names
- Mobile phone carrier information
- Business details
- Auto incidents
This is why opting out of Whitepages is absolutely necessary. Their technology is very efficient when it comes to aggregating information and populating listings, so blocking their sources is not a viable option.
How do they use it?
The first way that Whitepages uses your basic information is by making it publicly available to anyone who visits the site.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Whitepages is a popular site. However, let’s run some numbers to really understand the reach we’re dealing with to better illustrate why opting out is so important.
It’s estimated that Whitepages has over 30 million unique monthly visitors and they have information on roughly 90% of the US population. Not only that, but the information they have on the site is quite accurate.
The combination of their popularity and technological ability to find information means two things: your information is most likely on the site, and it’s probably been seen by someone else. This makes completing the Whitepages opt out process even more important.
However there’s another part of the company that many don’t know about, their background check services. Consumers aren’t the only ones that go to Whitepages for its information.
Large companies like Intuit, Jetblue, and Lego all rely heavily on the Whitepages online database to provide them with tons of information about candidates under consideration for being hired. Businesses can also use this site to evaluate potential business partners, fact-check credentials, and implement fraud prevention services.
What does this mean for you?
It means if someone wants to do a deeper dive on your information other than the basics, Whitepages will do it for them.
As a matter of fact, this is now their primary business model. While they used to rely heavily on ads, now they try to sell their background check services more aggressively.
This means they are pushing more private info in the hands of other people.
So, let’s get into the step-by-step process for removing a listing from Whitepages.
Whitepages vs. Whitepages Premium vs. WhitePages Tenant
If you’ve taken some time to poke around Whitepages’ site, you’ll notice that they have a few different offerings based on what type of information someone may be looking for.
- Standard Whitepages Listing (FREE) – A simple search will deliver some basic information on an individual including their name, age, location, relatives, and phone number. Depending on how you back into a search (ex: search for a person’s name or use the phone number lookup feature) will dictate the type of information that is returned back.
- Whitepages Premium / SmartCheck Background Checks– For nearly every individual, Whitepages offers the ability to run a background report using their Smart Check technology. What’s actually in each background report will vary by individual but you can typically find criminal & traffic records, public records, previous addresses, financial records, liens, judgements, licenses, permits and more. Access to reports requires you to upgrade to one of their paid plans, which usually runs about $24.99 per report or $12.99 per month for access to multiple reports and contact lookups.
- Tenant Screening – This feature targets landlords who are looking to screen potential renters. Reports are a premium feature and include a person’s credit report, identity verification, eviction report, and a criminal background check. It’s important to note that tenant screening laws vary state by state.
Whitepages & the California Privacy Protection Act (CCPA)
The California Privacy Protection Act (CCPA) went into effect January of this year. It extends additional rights to residents of California to have better visibility into what information a company is retaining on them and greater control to limit the sale of their personal data as well as to opt out completely.
This legislation has forced many data brokers to step up and respond. Whitepages has a specific section on their site for California residents that breaks down what information they have, how they collect it, and how they can opt out under provision of the law. You can access that here.
The job is not done yet
While opting out of Whitepages is a great step in the right direction, there’s a fundamental issue that still needs to be addressed.
Whitepages isn’t the only information aggregator out there.
As a matter of fact, there are a ton of them and more are popping up each day. This means that the information Whitepages pulled together for their listing can, and will be found by other sites. Whether you use BrandYourself to monitor these sites automatically or handle the work yourself, it’s very important that you’re diligent about which sites have your data.