Your Online Visibility
You may or may not know this, but if you've been working or playing online, either recently, or ever since the introduction of the Internet, it's highly likely that some of your personal information is accessible for anyone to see and copy. If you are concerned about your privacy, finding your personal information (name, address & more) listed on Websites and within databases all over the Internet may be alarming. For that reason, and more, companies are popping up to help people remove or modify their unwanted online listings visible to the world, but for a price. The paid services also offer to help businesses correct misinformation and remove unwanted links from unrelated sites. Links with low ranking and unrelated to the site's theme can potentially damage the site's search engine positioning. Businesses can benefit from these paid services, especially if their site has lost its positioning.
Our goal is to help you find your personal, private and public information listings online right at Find-Me-Online.net and offer advice and articles on how to get those listings removed, if desired. Right at our site you will be able to search dozens of databases (not just Google) either by name, address, phone number, e-mail address, industry or a combination of terms to find out where you're listed. You may find hundreds of listings, or just a few. But if you don't want that information available to the world, your current or future employer, strangers or potential criminals, you will know where they appear and you have a right to request their removal. It won't cost you anything but your time.
Search, Find and (Destroy) Delete
Why would you want to search for your presence on the Internet? One reason is to protect your privacy. If you're an author, or create and own intellectual property, you may be vulnerable to copyright infringement for your works, and could find out if someone is using it or selling your work without permission. You'll never know if you don't periodically check. As an example, several years ago I developed a series of sports entertainment programs on disk sold exclusively through my own Website. I was searching eBay to check my competition and by accident I was shocked to find my software for sale, but no one had permission to resell my software. It turns out that one of my customers had copied the software and had been selling on eBay for almost a year without my knowledge. This was a clear case of copyright infringement, so I contacted eBay and they immediately removed all his listings. At the same time I contacted the infringer and requested payment for all his sales through eBay, and he did eventually comply but not until after I said I would be contacting his local police if he didn't respond within a week. It was very disturbing to find someone stealing my work.
So, if you choose to be anonymous on the Internet, or try to be, or you want to make sure your information online is accurate, or you just want to find and remove it, then you'll need to spend some time online. It's like you're a human anti-virus program determined to find and destroy unwanted data. So, go now to our "search the Internet page" and start looking! It's free to look and you may be surprised what you find. Then you can take actions to protect yourself (see our "articles page" on what to do).
What Can You Do with the Data Found?
It depends on what you're searching for and what database you're using. Of course you may use Google for much of your invesitgating, but for more specifics, maybe business information, other databases would be first. Here's a short list of recommended searches using specifc search engines.
- People Look Up. For people searches you can go directly to pipl.com, zabasearch.com, addresses.com or similar.
- Credit Card Security. If you run an online business and want to make sure the orders originate from the customer's city, and not off shore which may be fraudulent, use geobytes.com/iplocator.html. Most shopping carts track the IP address of the order, and you take that IP address (4 sets of numbers separated by a period) and enter it into iplocator. The results are highly accurate, and you will instantly find the location of the computer that placed the order. If it matches your customer's city, you're okay. If it's offshore or from another state then it may not be safe to ship.
- Author-Book/Software Search. If you're an author and want to check where your books/software are sold and also what people are saying about your work, start with Amazon.com. If your book is out of print you can check abebooks.com. A general search on Google will find all dealers stocking your work.
- Whois Database. Once you find information at various Website and decide you want it removed, you may have trouble finding a contact to request removal. Sometimes people publish information only and never make updates; the data is just hanging free in cyberspace unattended without contact information. If you're having trouble locating the Webmaster, you can use the Whois Database that lists all registration informaton regarding that site. We recommend who.godaddy.com for the search. Unless the whois data is private, you will find several types of contact information incluing the site's domain name registrar, the administrator with street, e-mail address and phone number. If they do not respond to your requests, you can always contact the listed hosting company and file a complaint. An alternate way to find the hosting company associated with the offending Website is to open the Command Prompt window, accessible from the Windows Accessories folder, and enter "ping offendingwebsite.com." This will find and display the IP address associated with that Website. Then you'll copy the those numbers into the whois database to find the hosting company and contact information. To report an offending Website you can call, or e-mail your complaints. The e-mail address is often "email@example.com."
- Copyright Infringement Identified. If you find a Website using your copyrighted works you can file a complaint with Google, with proof, and they will remove the offending site from their directory. Here's a link to the procedure: https://support.google.com/legal/answer/1120734?rd=2
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