Is Your Personal Information for Sale Online? How to Remove Yourself from PeopleWhiz and Other Data Broker Sites

Did you know that detailed records about your life – from your current address to your criminal history to the names of your relatives – are being collected, packaged, and sold online every day? According to a study by cybersecurity company Incogni, the personal information of 500+ million people is available through data brokers. Your data is likely among those records – whether you realize it or not.

Data brokers are companies that specialize in collecting personal information from public and private sources, aggregating it into detailed individual profiles, and licensing those profiles to anyone willing to pay. People search sites like PeopleWhiz, Spokeo, and BeenVerified are some of the most prominent data brokers, making their trove of personal records available to the public online.

While there are some legitimate uses for this data, like background checks and fraud investigations, it can also be misused for invasive marketing, identity theft, online harassment, and even physical stalking. The more of your personal details that are available online, the more vulnerable you are to bad actors.

Luckily, you have the power to remove your information from PeopleWhiz and most other data broker sites. In this in-depth guide, we‘ll walk through the opt-out process step-by-step. We‘ll also examine the questionable claim that someone can track your exact location just from your phone number. Finally, we‘ll look at some key strategies you can implement to better protect your personal data and privacy online.

How Data Brokers Like PeopleWhiz Collect Your Personal Information

People search sites are able to compile such comprehensive profiles by aggregating data from a vast array of public records and proprietary sources. Some common sources include:

  • Government records (voter registrations, property records, marriage/divorce records, professional licenses)
  • Court records (criminal records, bankruptcies, lawsuits)
  • Social media profiles
  • Web browsing history
  • Online purchases and transaction data
  • Loyalty cards and customer surveys

Whenever you register to vote, buy a home, apply for a loan, or make other public filings, that information can end up in a data broker database. But data brokers also obtain information from commercial sources. Many popular websites and apps sell or share user data to third parties. Data brokers can purchase this information and link it together using identifiers like name, phone number, email and IP address.

Data brokers employ sophisticated algorithms to mine and analyze vast quantities of both online and offline data. For example, Acxiom, one of the largest consumer data brokers, is reported to have 1500+ data points on nearly every US consumer. Advanced machine learning models allow data brokers to infer additional sensitive details about people, like income level, political affiliations, and health conditions, based on behavioral patterns in the data.

While most data brokers claim to only deal in legally-obtained public information, the scope and granularity of the profiles they can compile is alarming to many privacy advocates. A 2014 FTC study found that many data brokers fail to be fully transparent about their data collection and sharing practices. Individuals are rarely notified when their information is collected and have little control over how it‘s used.

Is Your Information on PeopleWhiz? Here‘s How to Check and Remove It

With so much personal data being bought and sold behind the scenes, there‘s a good chance your information is included on PeopleWhiz or a similar people search database – even if you never directly interacted with the site. Here‘s how you can find out:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your first and last name in the search bar, along with your city and state
  3. If your name appears in the search results, click to view the full profile and see what information is included

Typical PeopleWhiz profiles include:

  • Full name and known aliases
  • Age and date of birth
  • Current and past addresses
  • Phone numbers and email addresses
  • Social media profiles
  • Marital status and known relatives
  • Criminal and traffic records
  • Bankruptcies and tax liens

If you find your personal information on PeopleWhiz, you can request to have it removed by following these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your identifying details in the required fields (name, city, state)
  3. Provide your email address and click "Send Verification Link"
  4. Open the email from PeopleWhiz and click the link to confirm your opt-out request
  5. You‘ll be redirected back to PeopleWhiz to complete the removal process

According to PeopleWhiz, your information should be deleted from their database within 48 hours of submitting a verified request. Be aware that opting out of PeopleWhiz does not remove you from other data broker sites – you‘ll need to go through a similar opt-out process on each site individually. We‘ve compiled a master list of popular data broker opt-out links and forms here.

Other Major Data Broker Sites to Remove Yourself From

PeopleWhiz is just one of dozens of people search sites trafficking in personal data. Some of the other prominent ones to check for your information on include:

For a more exhaustive list with step-by-step instructions, see our complete guide to data broker opt-outs. Due to the sheer number of sites and the hoops they make you jump through (like mailing in forms and faxing identification), removing your info from data brokers can be a time-consuming process. But it‘s a critical step in reducing your digital footprint and exposure to privacy risks.

Can Someone Really Track Your Location From Your Phone Number?

One of the most sensitive pieces of personal information often included in data broker profiles is phone numbers. Many people worry that a bad actor could use their phone number to pinpoint their physical location in real time. Countless online services claim to offer this ability – but are they legitimate?

The short answer is no – tracking someone‘s precise location from just their 10-digit phone number is not realistically possible for the average person. Despite fearmongering marketing claims, there is no reliable public database or service that can match phone numbers to GPS coordinates.

Let‘s examine some of the commonly cited phone tracking methods and their actual capabilities and limitations:

Reverse Phone Lookups

Sites like Whitepages and Spokeo may be able to match a name and physical address to a landline or mobile number, based on public records and proprietary databases. But this information is static – it can‘t reveal the phone‘s current location.

"Find My" Apps

Phone locator apps like Find My iPhone do provide real-time GPS tracking – but they require explicit opt-in from the phone owner. The device‘s location sharing options must be enabled and it must be logged into the relevant app account.

Cell Tower Triangulation

A phone‘s approximate location can sometimes be inferred by analyzing data from the cell towers it‘s connected to. But this data is only accessible to mobile carriers – it‘s not something just anyone can view. Law enforcement can request access to cell site location records with a warrant, but they must have court approval and show probable cause.

The bottom line is that there‘s no publicly available service or technology that can track any cell phone‘s location by number alone. Real-time GPS tracking requires explicit user opt-in through a specific app platform or access to carrier-level data that is restricted.

Of course, even without precise location data, the amount of personal information exposed through data brokers is still concerning. Details like home addresses, social connections, and legal records could be exploited for targeted scams, stalking, and reputation damage. Proactively opting out from data broker sites is one of the best ways individuals can protect themselves.

Additional Steps to Protect Your Personal Data Online

Removing your info from PeopleWhiz and other data brokers is a great first step in reclaiming your digital privacy. But there are many other proactive measures you can implement:

  • Tighten up social media privacy settings – Make sure only trusted contacts can see sensitive details on your profiles. Don‘t accept requests from strangers.
  • Use an identity monitoring service – These tools scan the web and dark web for signs your personal data has been exposed or compromised in a breach.
  • Invest in a virtual private network (VPN) – VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and mask your IP address/location from prying eyes.
  • Adopt secure password practices – Use a password manager to generate and store strong, unique passwords for every account. Never reuse passwords across sites.
  • Opt-out of data sharing when possible – Look for privacy settings that let you opt-out of behavioural advertising and third-party data sharing. Many apps and sites now offer these to comply with privacy laws.
  • Limit what data you provide – Don‘t fill in optional fields on online forms if you don‘t have to. Provide alternative contact info like a P.O. box or dummy email when possible.
  • Use identity-masking tools – Services like MySudo, Burner and provide virtual phone numbers, email addresses, and payment cards to help you interact online anonymously.

Ultimately, total online privacy is difficult to achieve in the digital age. So much of the infrastructure and economy of the web is built on the collection and exchange of personal data. But by understanding how that data is gathered and proactively controlling what‘s out there, you can significantly mitigate your risk. Supporting online privacy legislation and technologies is also critical for a safer digital future.

Future Solutions for Personal Data Control

Combating the unchecked spread of personal data online will require a coordinated effort between individuals, regulators, and technologists. Some potential long-term solutions:

  • Federal data privacy law – A national privacy law, like the EU‘s GDPR, could mandate limits on data collection, more transparency, and easier opt-outs. The proposed American Data Privacy and Protection Act is a step in this direction.
  • Personal data marketplaces – Emerging blockchain projects like the Cirus Foundation aim to give users more control over their data and the ability to profit from it themselves.
  • Decentralized identity – Tools that give individuals a secure, self-sovereign digital identity (rather than countless profiles scattered across databases) could limit unauthorized data sharing.
  • Homomorphic encryption – This cutting-edge cryptographic technique allows computations on data while keeping it encrypted, potentially enabling more privacy-safe data analysis.

While the personal data economy won‘t change overnight, public awareness of the issue is growing. By demanding more transparency and control over how our data is used, we can work towards a world where technology serves the interests of individual privacy rather than exploiting it.

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