Google can be a powerful tool to explore the web, but what happens when your personal information ends up in search results? It is possible for personal information, such as your Social Security Number (SSN), bank account info, secure logins, and more to show up on the search engine.
Now there’s something you can do about it.
Google announced that it will allow users to remove what it calls ‘Personally Identifiable Info’ (PPI), and the process is easy enough.
Follow our detailed guide, as we walk you through removing your personal info from Google Search and keeping your financial security intact.
What Information Will Google Remove?
Before you jump into submitting an official removal request, it is important to understand what types of information Google will remove from its search results. You won’t be able to request that Google removes personal information simply because it is embarrassing or you disagree with it — it must fall under specific criteria.
Google notes that it “may remove personal information that creates significant risks of identity theft, financial fraud, or other specific harms.” With a removal request, Google may remove search results that involve the following:
- Non-consensual explicit or intimate personal images
- Involuntary fake pornography
- Sites with exploitative removal practices
- Personally Identifiable Information (PPI) or doxxing content
- Irrelevant pornography that appears with your name
- Images of minors
Here, we’ll focus on Personally Identifiable Information (PPI), as this information could lead to instances of identity theft or financial fraud. Offending websites that may follow under the PPI category must showcase one of the following personal identifiers in search results to be considered a risk to your security:
- Confidential government identification numbers, including Social Security Numbers
- Bank account or credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of identification documents
- Highly restricted or official records, such as medical records
- Personal contact information, such as your physical address or phone number
- Confidential login credentials
If you have confirmed that any of the above pieces of Personally Identifiable Information has shown up on Google Search results, it’s essential to get that information removed to protect your personal and financial security. (If you own property, keep in mind that your physical address is likely contained in numerous public records. The availability of that information alone does not compromise your finances.)
Removing Personal Info From Google Search
To initiate a request to remove personal information from Google, you will need to visit Google’s Request to Remove Personal Information form. From here, you will be asked a series of questions in regards to your request; be sure to answer them accurately.
Google will ask you if you have contacted the website owner directly to remove the information. To continue, through the form, you will want to either select ‘No, I prefer not to.’ or ‘Yes.’
As part of the submission process, you will be asked to enter your personal contact information online, including your full name, country of residence and email address.
Lastly, you will be asked to enter the URL(s) of web pages that showcase the offending search results. To aid Google’s removal, you may wish to provide the URL(s) of the Google search results page. It is also recommended that you upload a screenshot of the offending information and list any queries that surface the content.
Google may remove any provided web addresses or the web addresses for only search queries involving your name. Note that Google may deny your request if they feel the information is insufficient.
Once your request has been submitted, you will receive an automated email confirmation from Google and the company’s team will then review your request. In some instances, Google may reach back out to you for more detailed information about the web page.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I delete all personal data from Google?
The information provided in this guide is aimed at helping individuals remove URLs from Google’s search results that may include sensitive personal information. If you wish to remove other forms of data from Google, such as your search activity, we recommend visiting Google’s Account Help page.
Can you tell if someone has Googled you?
No. In general, there is no way to know if someone has Googled you. While tools do exist to analyze search engines and their data, they are not generally built for personal individuals to keep an eye on their own search queries.
What do I do if my info has been involved in a data breach?
Michael Archambault is a Senior Writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.