This article explains how to remove and protect your personal information online and suggestions for remaining private. If you'd like to hide your internet activity, VPNs are a great option for hiding your IP address.
Search For Yourself Online
Have you ever searched for yourself online? If you haven't, you should so you can see what sites reveal about you. If you have searched for yourself and found information that you don't want out there for the public to see, this article will give you a few ideas on how to hide your personal information online. If you're looking to search for someone else online, we've got an article to tell you how to find almost anyone online.
You should start by searching multiple search engines for your name since each search engine can show different results. The best way to search for yourself is by typing your name surrounded by quotes. Example, "john doe". I go a step further and search "john doe" current city, like "john doe" atlanta.
As you browse the results, you should right click each link of interest and select Open In New Tab. This is the best method for keeping track of what you want to research while not losing your original search results. Each link you open in a new tab can take you down several rabbit holes, so staying organized is a must.
When you find your name and information listed on a site where you'd like it removed, like one of those people information database sites (people finder, white pages, etc.), simply look for their Opt Out link. This link is usually in the footer at the bottom of the page. If you can't find the link, you can open a new tab and using the same search engine, type opt out plus the name of the site you've found your information (example, "opt out whitepages.com"). Follow their steps for opting out and usually within 24 hours, your name and information will be dropped from their database. The link in the search engine will usually drop out of the search results within a couple of weeks.
If one of the links you've found is a social media link like Facebook, go to your Facebook account settings and choose Privacy Settings, then edit the options to disable your choices of how you want people to find you.
As an alternative on Social Media, you could use an alias. Some people spell their name backwards like "nhoj eod", others use a completely different name from their own. Some will use their first name with their job title after like "john chef". These methods don't give your real name, but your friends will be the weak link unfortunately. They'll post something like "I'd like to thank my friend John Chef (tagged to profile page) Doe (real last name because your friend typed it out) for providing us with a great meal, we truly enjoyed ourselves" along with a picture of you and your friends. If their posts on their Facebook pages are public, the post can be searched within Facebook and possibly other search engines. Even if you've chosen not to be on Facebook, they can post the same pic and include your real name in the post. That post can also show up in Facebook search results.
Keep Your Real Phone Number Private
One thing I do is use a Google Voice number. This doesn't cost anything, and Google provides an app that installs on your phone. When someone calls this number, your mobile phone will ring. You can also dial out as that number via the app so your Google Voice number will show up on their caller ID and not your real number. There are other options you can set within the app, but this is a great way to protect your actual phone number. If you're someone who changes phone numbers on a regular basis, this is the perfect option to not have to update your friends each time you get a new number. You can make the decision to give everyone your Google Voice number or only give third parties your Google Voice number. If the phone calls to that number become overwhelming, you can simply get a new Google Voice number and ditch the old one. I've had the same Google Voice number for many years. It's superb at filtering out spam text messages, etc.
Disposable Email Address
You can sign up for and use a non personal email address for mailing lists. If you shop at a particular store on a regular basis and they have a rewards program that requires an email address, you can give them the disposable email address. Example might be [email protected] If these same companies require a phone number as well, you can give them your Google Voice number.
You'll have to stay diligent and search your data about every quarter to every six months to make sure none of your personal data has started showing up where you don't want it to show up.