How to Remove Your Address From the Internet: A Step-by-Step Guide
April 23, 2020
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Family members, close friends, and the mailman might feature on a list of people you want to know your home address. Random internet strangers wouldn’t be on that list. There are very few good reasons why you might want to have your home address appear on the internet and a whole host of great ones why you might want to keep it private.
Unfortunately, a quick Google search is usually all it takes for people to find private information about you, including your home address. So, what can you do to remove your home address from the internet?
Why Is My Address Online?
The main reason your home address shows up on the internet without your permission is that it’s most likely a part of the public record. For example, it might have appeared in a phone book or a publically accessible document.
Another common reason why your address might appear online is that it was put there by a third party — you unknowingly gave it the right to do so.
However, even if a digitally available public record features your address, there’s no reason why it should show up as a Google search result. While it’s often impossible to remove your home address from the internet entirely, there are ways to vastly reduce the number of times your address appears in search engine results.
Why Can’t I Just Ask Google to Delete My Address?
It would be great if we could email Google and ask them politely to delete all of our private information that has somehow appeared on the internet.
Unfortunately, asking Google to remove your home address will, in most cases, not get you very far. Why? Because Google is a search engine, not an internet policeman. While Google indexes and sorts information for searchers, it can’t (or at least won’t) remove information such as your home address from appearing in their search results.
How to Remove Your Address From the Internet
So what can you do if your address appears online? Your first course of action should be figuring out exactly where your address is showing up. Generally, your address might be listed in one of two places:
People-search sites. People search sites, such as Spokeo, are online data broker sites that list (and often sell) your personal information. While their actions might seem dubious, their operation is perfectly legal. These sites find your information by searching public record databases, which often contain some direct listing of your home address.
A blog or website. In some cases, your address might appear on a blog or website as part of an article posted without your knowledge. This might even be a scanned version of an old newspaper clipping that appeared online as a result of a newspaper digitizing and archiving past issues.
Once you know where your address is appearing, you can try and get it removed. Doing this is generally a matter of either “opting-out” or asking the site owner to delete your home address from their website.
If your address appears on an online database like Whitepages or Spokeo, follow the instructions on the webpage to remove your address from your listing. To make this step a little easier, we’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to opt-out of most major data collection sites.
Be warned, though. While opting-out of some sites is as easy as filling out an online form, other people-search and background-check sites require that you email them, or even prove your identity, instead.
Ask to be forgotten
Asking a private site owner to remove your home address from their website is a little less straightforward than opting out of an online database.
To start with, you’ll need to find out who owns the website where your home address appears. Unless the owner lists contact information on the site itself, your best bet is to perform a Whois search. Once you have the site owner’s contact details, you can send them an email asking them to remove your address from the internet.
If you and the site owner live in a country that’s protected by a right to be forgotten, the website has a legal obligation to remove your data. Unfortunately, in countries like the United States, site owners don’t legally have to delete your home address from their website.
Remove outdated content
Alright, so you’ve managed to remove your address from a specific webpage. The next step is getting Google to recognize this fact.
Often, content that has been deleted from a webpage will still appear in Google search results. The reason for that is simple: the site has not yet been cached. Searchers are still seeing results based on the old content that the site hosted last time it was cached.
To solve this, go to Google’s “remove outdated content” page. There, you can ask Google to show only the latest version of the website or websites that used to host your home address but don’t anymore.
Get professional help
Removing your home address or any other personal information is unfortunately not as straightforward as it should be.
Also worth noting is that new information doesn’t just stop appearing online the minute you decide to take action. Rather than playing perpetual whack-a-mole with your online identity, you can hire a subscription-based service like DeleteMe to do it for you.
DeleteMe experts won’t just find and delete all of your personal information that appears online once — they’ll do so every three months, and will also send you a detailed report to show you everything they found on you.
Now You Know How to Remove Your Address From the Internet
Once you manage to remove your home address from the internet, you should take steps to prevent it from appearing online ever again. The most foolproof way to do this is to use a P.O box (a lockable box usually located in a post office) rather than your actual address for all of your correspondence.
But if your address keeps reappearing online, consider subscribing to a service such as DeleteMe, which will scour the internet for your personal information every three months.
Laura Martisiute is DeleteMe’s content marketing specialist. Her job is to help DeleteMe communicate vital privacy information to the people that need it.
Since joining DeleteMe in 2020, Laura has done exactly that.
Creating some of the internet’s most popular privacy content on DeleteMe’s blog, writing the leading privacy newsletter Incognito, and helping DeleteMe plan and craft its messaging across different channels, Laura drives DeleteMe’s content.
Laura has a degree from University College Cork.
You can contact Laura with questions and ideas at email@example.com