About two years ago I searched my own name with a couple search engines and was surprised with the number of results that advertised having my personal info details. These listings were from data indexing "data broker" websites that had my details publically visible including physical address, phone number, and the Google Streetview photo of where I live. They advertised that visitors could pay to find out even more. The names of these services/companies include Whitepages, Intelius, Spokeo, etc.
I didn't like my personal information being so readily available to anyone who typed my name into a search engine so I began digging into how to get my information off the data broker websites. Having that information so readily available struck me as a gross invasion of my privacy.
Many of the companies had opt-out pages on their sites that would allow me to go through a process to identify myself and request to have the listings associated with me taken down. The process for each website is different. I began opting myself out on the different websites and found it to be time intensive and noticed some of the companies required a lot of work to get the listings taken down including physically mailing or faxing in a request.
At the time I couldn't invest that much time into the project and in the process of finding ways to get my information taken down I found DeleteMe from Abine, Inc. I found a few reviews online and interviews with the CEO of the company that I found respectable. DeleteMe promised to do opt-out request work for about 29 data brokers on my behalf for a fee. The price was worth it to me so last year I signed up. I fed a bit of the information on my identity into their website and they began to send out opt-out requests on my behalf. It was a data trade-off, I gave that company information about me so that they could get other companies to delete the information that they had on me.
The data brokers will supposedly reindex your information so DeleteMe checks the databases three times a year and resubmits any opt-out requests necessary. In the regular reports DeleteMe has provided I see that I haven't been relisted on any databases in the past year.
I'm going to cancel my subscription this year and will plan on checking the results on my own and manually submitting any listing opt-outs if I need to. Checking for personal data listings online and submitting opt-out requests will become a necessary annual maintainence task in this era of the internet.
Worthwhile story on the new data broker law out of Vermont.