I am pretty much begging you to read this article. You personal information is being posted all over the place, and I’m going to help you change that.
Please note that after you do a few things, I will explain why i decided to write this post in addition to what you can do to fix this problem.
I’m not even going to say anything to start this off. But, I’m going to ask you to do something real quick. Click this first link. Enter your full name. And see what pops up.
Now. Try your phone number. Notice after you click your name. It lists your phone number. Address. Family. Friends. Want to see how easy it is to get more details on yourself? Under Sponsored, click ‘Detailed Report. You can spend a few bucks and get all of the following:
- Online Activity
- Traffic Offenses
- Arrest Records
- Sexual Offensses (hopefully not)
- Phone Numbers
- Marriage Records
- Birth Info
Now, when you do your search on Pipl, there are ‘Results for Nick’ and there are more results under ‘All Media’. All media is more like a google search, so you don’t need to worry about that one too much. But if you see your name under ‘Results’, this is something to worry about. Now, when you click on your name – look at all the websites it’s pulling from. Keep a few of these websites in mind.
You can now un-drop your jaw. Now try this one.
Enter your cell phone number. Try an hold house number. See what pops up. Want some more fun? This next one tracks usernames, emails, addresses, etc. etc.
Don’t worry. I’m not done.
Did you notice that these websites I listed are the ones that Pipl was pulling data from? Interesting.
So maybe there isn’t that much on you. Give your wife’s name a try. You girlfriend, boyfriend. Whatever. I gave it a try. One name search on Pipl gave my girlfriend’s old and current address, phone number, facebook, email, parents, aunts, uncles, and everything in between. The thought of knowing anyone can pop onto this site and immediately get all this information on the people I love made me sick to my stomach. Destroyed my day.
Now. There are a few different outcomes.
- You don’t have much of a digital footprint, and your name didn’t pop up that often. That’s good. For the most part, that means you are under the radar.
- Your name pops up in a few places. And that worries you. Fret not, I have a solution.
- Your name popped up all over the place on all these websites. Not only that, but maps to your address, family members, friends, emails, phone numbers, etc. etc. I was #3 and was freaked the fuck out.
Now, I’ll do some explaining. Earlier today, my brother sent me a link to this article. What these websites are doing is called Doxxing. I would recommend reading the entire article, but I will understand if you don’t.
Dox is short for documents. The act of doxxing involves finding online documentation related to a person, typically their phone number and home address. This information can be used in a variety of ways and it’s often malicious. It could exist online as a scare tactic, a way of silencing someone through fear, or it could lead to other forms of harassment, such as swatting.
SWATTING. This is a thing. Why does this pertain to you Nick? Well, most of you know that I play video games with a PC gaming community. I also ‘stream’ on Twitch. Streaming is the act of taking your video games and hosting it live on the internet for people to watch. It is HUGE right now and people are doing it all over the world, and it is so much fun. And a lot of people are making money off it to. Basically, it allows you to watch other people play video games, except you don’t have to be in their basement, you can sit comfortably at your house. Now. What is swatting? Swatting is when people who are viewing your stream do something along the lines of calling your local police department, posing as you, and making threats. Bomb threads. Murder Threats. Threats against the police. Not only that, but they give out your name, address, phone number, etc. etc. So what do the police do? They call the SWAT team, and they come to your house, break down your front door, throw you on the ground and hand cuff you. Since a lot of these streamers have a webcam that shows them, the audience watches in horror and your harassed like it’s live television. Yes. This is happening.
So what is going on here? These sites are used by these ‘hackers’ to get your information. With these sites, they can call Amazon, PayPay, Ebay. Comcast, AT&T, and get these customer service agents to release personal information like SS #’s and credit card numbers. Please Nick, companies don’t just hand out your information. Oh yes. They do. All the time. And they hackers that are making these calls know just how to squeeze the information out of these customer service reps with scripted tactics. Want some clarification on that from someone who has done it before? READ THIS.
Now. There are a few things to think about here. Years and years ago, I used to try and find sites like these when trying to get information on people. Was it to dox and swat? No. I had people that were stalking me and my family and threatening to bring harm to me, my family and my house. I was trying to get information to give to the police. Back in 2007 and 2008, these websites existed. But, they were not wide open to the public like they are now. They weren’t databases built by joe schmo’s who were trying to hack your shit. You used to have to create accounts, pay monthly fees, be employed with a law firm, etc. But now, this stuff is open to everyone.
Everyone knows I love the internet. I am very, VERY active on the internet, and I share a lot about my life on a fun and professional level. However, I am NOT okay with what these sites are doing. They are exploiting you, and it has to be stopped. Now, are you ever going to remove yourself from the internet completely? No. But, if you take the necessary measures to get your personal information off these sites, it will go a long way. It will make you less of a target. People are WAY more likely to go after the individuals with free information rather than having to pay. It’s the difference between a hacker stopping and looking, or just moving onto the next person. The reason this means a lot to me is because I do stream my video games online, and if someone wanted – they could swat my house. Now, this wouldn’t be my house, because it wasn’t my address that was on these sites. It was my parents address. It was their names, relatives, phone numbers, and everything about them. Anyone who searched my name was 1 click away from tearing my entire live apart. What if you were a streamer like me, and your father happened to be cleaning his rifle when the police burst in? What if they caused an elderly person to have a heart attack from the reaction of having SWAT bust through your front door? What if any harm was done? Obviously, this doesn’t matter to most people. But it does to me, and a lot of the people I play with.
So what can you do at this point? Well, give this article a read. The four websites that you want to get your information off of is White Pages, 10digits.us, Pipl and Spokeo. I was able to get my info pulled from these websites today. In the article i just linked, the author makes a point to direct you to the websites where you can ask to have your information removed. Click here to get that process started with Spokeo, Click here to start with White Pages, Click Here to start with 10digits.us, and Click Here to get your info off of Pipl. Now, for White Pages, I had to create an account to hide my information. And for Spokeo, I had to take a picture of my drivers license and email it to them. When you do this, they encourage you to cover your license # and pictures, which I did and all is good. Once you get yourself off these sites, it becomes way more difficult for people to get your infomation so easily. Sure, your name might still pop in the database, but if someone wants to get deeper, they are going to have to start paying up. And this will deter most people.
Reading all this today really derailed me. I was worthless at work and frantic to get my information off the web. Is there more websites like these? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you avoid taking these steps to help your cause. You really don’t know what anyone could do with this information. I hope you take the time to get this sorted out. Remember that it’s people who used to do this kind of stuff are the ones that are exposing it to the public. If you want to dig deeper and get down to the nitty gritty, Click Here. This post will show you how to opt-out of websites that are collecting data on you. Give your Facebook privacy settings a look. Are every single one of your statuses and picture uploads open to the public? That might be something you want to change. Click here to read a really good post on locking down your Facebook. I did this a year or so ago and I’m so glad I did, because these sites would have had SO much more information on me then they already did.
One thing to keep in mind is this. Since the internet has taken off, we have literally been trained to blast all of our info all over the web. We’ve been adding our address, phone numbers and emails all over different websites. In reality, we did this to ourselves. But, I wrote this article so you could become aware of the public diary you have been building since you bought your first computer.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. This subject really hit home today, and I want to spread this to as many people as I can and get the word out. In this day and age with out wide open the internet is, we need to take the proper precautions to help protect ourselves, our families, and our loved ones. I hope you have a great rest of the evening.
I would like to say thank you to my brother for showing this to me today, Kotaku for posting an awesome article on this, and the other authors who outlined how to take the necessary steps to clean this up.