How Do People Search Websites to Get Your Personal Information?

People search websites pull from various sources that provide different types of personal information, including public records, social network profiles and other online sources on which a person has willingly provided information about himself. These sites can be primary or secondary sources of personal information, depending on how directly they link to public records.

Primary sites include Intelius, LexisNexis, PeopleFinders, White Pages, and other sources that pull directly from public-record information. These public records include government documents, such as birth and death certificates, criminal records, driver's licenses, voter registrations, marriage licenses and lawsuit documents. This also includes information that someone has provided about himself via a sweepstakes or an online survey. These primary sites are usually more dependable for accuracy than secondary sites.

Secondary sites compile their information about a person from a variety of sources, including primary sites, social networks and any other online source of information. Notable examples are Spokeo, Pipl, PeekYou, and Radaris. These are less accurate.

There are ways to limit the amount of personal information available to others online, such as being aware of privacy settings on social networks and limiting the information displayed on profiles, such as email address or mobile phone numbers. Another option is to use privacy software, which helps eliminate websites' ability to track information.