Phishing scams and social engineering are techniques often used by hackers to gain access to unauthorized data, websites, and other online accounts.
- Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.1
- While social engineering is the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.2
In order to better prevent both phishing and social engineering attacks, Google has recently begun a campaign to better manage the “personal data” previously saved in Google Search.
While Google is a great place to start in checking to see what personal information about you is available in Google Search, I’ve included a list of opt-out links for a number of people search websites at the end of this article as well.
Below is the type of data that Google Search is offering to help you in removing from Google Search:
– Bank account numbers
– Credit card numbers
– Images of handwritten signatures
– Images of ID docs
– Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
– Personal contact info, like physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses
– Confidential login credentials, and more…
Though keep in mind, Google Search is just a search engine and has no relation to the actual websites and data. So removal from search will not take down the websites presenting your data online. Google Search does have a helpful article on how to “Contact a site’s webmaster” as well.
If you are looking to better secure the information publicly available online, I recommend starting with your personal phone number.
Simply enter your phone number in search like this: “(123) 123-1234”
If you do see your personal information displaying readily in Google search and would like to remove it, see the “Google Remove Select Personally Identifiable Info from Google Search” page to start:
Soon, Google will provide a way to use the Google App on your mobile device to request removal of confidential or personal data. Until then, the form above and others linked on the request page will give you a head start in removing the personal or confidential data that phishing or social engineering hackers may use to gain access to your data online.
As a thank you for reading my article, below are eight ways to start in clearing personal data from popular people search websites as well:
Select the Do Not Sell My Personal Information button at the bottom of the page.
Enter your first and last name and state. Click the search button. Click match that applies to you. Then, click Opt Out in the upper-right corner of the box containing your information (it’s gray and hard to see).
1 Pulled from Google Search, Oxford Languages, entry text, “what is phishing”
2 Pulled from Google Search, Oxford Languages, entry text, “what is social engineering”