How to Delete Personal Information From Public Records

By Aaron Gifford

It is nearly impossible to delete your name from public records like voter registrations, property assessment rolls and motor vehicle registrations. Other people are entitled to see those records and other documents under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Yet, you can avoid having your phone number on most records, and you are entitled to make sure your full Social Security number does not appear on any documents.

Stop at your local county office building and ask to see your voter registration information, vehicle registration, property assessment records and other documents like county business certificates (if applicable). To see the recorded payments of your tax bills, visit your municipal building (town or city hall) and your school district's business office.

Inspect those records to see what information about you is included. Chances are it will at least have your name and address, which can't be removed. Your phone number might be listed on voter registration rolls and other records, and that can be removed. Your date of birth is required on voter registration records.

Call your telephone service provider to request an unpublished phone number and address. That may require a fee.

Visit your local police station and request a copy of any blotter item or report that your information may be listed in. You should be allowed to remove your phone number from any records, but not your name, address or date of birth.

Check court records, which might also list your Social Security number. New federal privacy laws protect your Social Security number from the public record, so only a portion of that number should be included in civil or bankruptcy cases. According to the Federal Judiciary, it is up to the lawyers, not the court clerks, to make sure that any Social Security numbers listed in court records are abbreviated.

About the Author

Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.

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