How Can I Block My Phone Number From Being Searched?
By Eric Feigenbaum
In the age of electronics and information technology, privacy can be elusive. Although many people enjoy the ease of communication and their accessibility to the world, others value their personal space. It's virtually impossible to prevent all personal information from making it online, but with some forethought and a little work, you might be able to get your phone number off the main search engines and directories.
Avoid checking boxes on online or mail-order forms authorizing companies to use your information for marketing purposes--including keeping you informed about their products. Once you authorize them to use your personal information for purposes other than shipping you a product you order, you lose privacy and can't know exactly where your information might go.
Call your telephone company and ask it not to publicly list your phone number. If you were already listed, your information won't disappear from all directories, possibly for years. For better results, ask for your number to remain private when you set up your account.
Search your name in the major online "white pages" directories. Contact each one using either its online contact forms or by telephone, and ask them to remove your name. Many directories are operated by major telephone companies that have customer service call centers, making them easy to reach. Note that this process can be time-consuming.
Set your outbound caller ID settings to private to ensure no one can get your phone number without your authorization. With land lines, ask your phone company for caller ID blocking service--usually a service added for a monthly fee. On mobile phones, look in your phone settings for privacy or caller ID blocking settings. Use your phone to block caller ID to save on monthly fees from your wireless service provider.
Pay a service that promises to remove your name and personal information from the Internet. Sites such as Reputation.com offer the use of their professional personnel to do all the hard work for you. Although services are not foolproof, they have more expertise and perhaps more time to work on the project than you do.
Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.