More than you realize is public information online. Here are five private details anyone can find out about you and your home online.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your privacy. Tap or click for steps to blur your home on Google Maps and Apple Maps.
If you’re not trying to sell your home, there’s no reason to leave interior photos and other details on real estate sites like Realtor, Zillow and Redfin. Just think about how valuable your floor plan might be in the wrong hands.
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When you’re selling your home, you want potential buyers to have all the information they need, including condition, photos, floor plans, furnishings and appliances. But if you just bought a house, you might not want all that information posted for anyone to see.
Do you want just another to see every entry point for each room? This information puts you at risk from criminals who can put together strategies based on your floor plans.
You might assume your real estate agent or seller would remove your home’s info from real estate sites after you’ve made a deal, but that’s not always the case.
Wonder who are your neighbors? You can walk over and say hi, but you can also find your neighbor’s name online.
A listing network
When your home is for sale, the broker uploads your home’s information (photos, floor plans and lots more) to a Multiple Listing Service. This service listing is where houses and pictures are posted.
This group then distributes the details to online real estate sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin and others. Brokers and agents who subscribe to that listing service for a membership fee can access all the information.
Real estate agents can also use the information to post their listings on social media and other online outlets.
More privacy know-how: How to remove everything you’ve found about yourself on Google
Removing yourself from a Multiple Listing Service
Only licensed agents and brokers can access a listing service and make changes, such as removal. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, ask your listing agent to close out the listing on the listing service. This may not necessarily get everything removed right away, but it’s a start.
Just because your home’s information is removed from the listing service doesn’t mean it’s not posted elsewhere. You may still find it on publicly accessible real estate sites.
Once again, you can ask your listing agent to remove your photos and other home information from websites they have access to.
If your agent is dragging their feet, you can take matters into your own hands and remove the information from each site. You will need to create accounts.
You may have to claim ownership of the home before making any changes. This opens up tools to track the value of your home and gives helpful information on pricing, including the value of nearby homes, purchase history and personalized recommendations.
Claiming your home is also the first step in removing information and photos. Here’s how to do it on a few popular sites:
Log into your profile at zillow.com and search for your address to find your home’s property page. Then:
• Under the More drop-down tab, click Verify your ownership.
• Verify your ownership by answering a few questions.
Once you’ve claimed ownership, you can start removing photos from Zillow.
• Log into your profile at zillow.com.
• Click on your profile iconthen select Your Home from the menu option.
• Click on the tile for your home to load the property page.
• Click on the Edit Facts icon from the Owner View of the property page.
• To remove a photo, click on an individual photo and click Remove Photo.
• Remove all your photos, then select Save Changes.
Having problems getting this done at Zillow? Go to zillow.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new to submit a ticket for help.
Go to realtor.com/myhometype in your address and click the magnifying glass to start claiming your home.
• Follow the steps to prove your ownership, and you’re all set.
Now do the following:
• Log into your profile at realtor.com.
• Go to your owner dashboard under the My Home tab.
• Click the Remove Photos button.
Submit a ticket at support.realtor.com/s/contactsupport if you need assistance.
Go to your Owner Dashboard to claim your home.
• Follow the steps to prove your ownership.
After claiming your home, you can make changes from your Owner Dashboard:
• Log into your account at redfin.com.
• Go to your Owner Dashboard using the drop-down menu under your name in the top-right corner of the page.
• Click on your home.
• Click Edit Photosthen Hide listing photos.
• Click Yes, Hide Photos when it pops up.
Keep your tech-know going
My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.
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Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Showthe nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.