I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick of seeing deeply personal and identifiable private details about my family online. Despite everything I do to opt out of the internet, private stuff pops up from time to time, like my home address or a photo that I made sure was private.
There is hope to get your personal data on the Internet
With so much data being shared on social media and the internet in general, it’s not hard to imagine how much personal data about you is available for others to find. What’s scarier and harder to imagine, however, is someone showing up at your home or place of business after Googling your first and last name to find the exact address.
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How to get rid of the web
While it’s nearly impossible to clean all of your data online, it’s important to understand what information is available about you so you can then find a manageable strategy to take the most impactful information offline and prevent future leaks.
The primary culprit for leaking your personal information online are data broker sites, also known as “People Search”, which allow you to enter any person’s name, often for just a few dollars, and receive their contact details such as telephone numbers and addresses; age; date of birth, employment history, etc. WebFX reported that there is over 4,000 data broker sites collecting data on over 500 million consumers.
One of the biggest data brokers, Acxiom, reportedly collects 3,000 data points for every American it profits from selling to the highest bidders.
The enormity of the amount of personal and private information collected and sold can make you feel ready to give up before you start. Mastering the cleaning of personal details from your life not only affects your privacy – it’s vital for your security. Below are strategic ways to effectively and efficiently reduce the amount of information about you that is harvested and sold around the world.
How much of your private information is already available?
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#1 Google yourself
When was the last time you tried to find yourself? Before you embark on a campaign to reach every data broker site, put on your own private detective hat to check which sites already have information about you online.
Here’s how easy it is to get started. Sign out of your own Google account, then Google yourself by searching for your first and last name on google.com. This is the most accurate way to see how an average user finds information about you through Google. Arguably the largest search engine online, it’s the most likely source most snoopers would use to glean information about you.
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#2 Appointment not found
There is data collection from companies and massive dumps of privacy breaches by hackers. Leaving unnecessary personal information online creates a risk of a random stranger or potentially dangerous person coming to your door. Simply gathering information found on Google and other search engines is enough to make you a target.
Google and other search engines continually collect and aggregate information about you. If you have a social media presence or a publicly accessible website, you can’t completely block your name from appearing in search results. However, these are a few key ways to make your information less likely to show up when searching for your name.
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How to Change Search Engine Settings for More Privacy
Let’s focus on a few simple steps on Google, as it is the largest and most used search engine online.
- Sign in to your Google account on your desktop
- In the upper right corner of the page there should be a numeric keypad icon
- Click the icon for a drop-down menu
- Click it “Account” icon
- Click on ‘Data Privacy in the left menu
- On the “Data & Privacy” page, scroll down to the “History Setting” options
- Under ‘History Settings’, click ‘Web and App Activity’
- Below ‘Activity checks’, Click on ‘switch off’ it will therefore stop aggregating information from your Google services and sites. Or if you prefer to keep it, you can “enable” automatic deletion so that it periodically deletes this information. You can repeat these steps for your “YouTube History”.
How much of your private information is already available?
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#3 Invest in moving services (best result)
In addition to the large number of data broker sites that store your data, the sad truth is that many of these sites continue to collect information about you both from public records and from online usage, even after you have already deleted data. It never stops.
Although you can go to each site and manually request that your information be deleted, you would do this non-stop. Unfortunately, there is little regulation when it comes to data brokers. Just because you delete your data from the web doesn’t mean data brokers will suddenly stop reselling it months from now.
Although no service promises to delete all your data from the Internet, these best services are perfect if you want to continuously monitor and automate the process of deleting your information from hundreds of sites over a longer period of time.
The first time I tried one, everything I didn’t want to see about me was gone. Months later, he returned to the crevices of Google. That’s when I learned that subscribing to deletion services that constantly scan and delete private data is the most effective solution.
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Best choice: OneRep
OneRep is my favorite. It has a very clean interface and you will be amazed at how much of your private information will be discovered and eventually deleted. OneRep offers monthly and yearly plans for deleting personal information. At the time of publication, OneRep analyzes 191 websites.
OneRep starts at $8.33/month for one person on their monthly plan, or $15/month for your family (up to 6 people) on their monthly plan. Unlike the services mentioned below (both DeleteMe or Kanary), OneRep offers a 5-day free trial.
Starting at $49.99/month (billed annually at $299.99), BrandYourself will remove your exposed information from over 35 sites. Although this company has a higher price than others, it offers a la carte features to find out if your sensitive information is on the Dark Web ($14.99/year), can improve Google results to control what people find when they google you ($44.99). /year) and helps you clean up your social media profiles by discovering and deleting all flagged posts and images that could cost you dearly ($14.99/year).
Starting at $10.75/month (billed annually at $129), the standard plan for one person for one year includes removal of your information from over 30 data broker sites. In addition to receiving a detailed report within 7 days of registration, this annual service scans and removes personal information from websites every three months. If you ever find your information on a data broker site not included in your service, you can submit a deletion request. DeleteMe will investigate whether or not it is capable of deleting your data from this site. While DeleteMe is similar to OneRep, its annual plan is more expensive.
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Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning technology journalist who has a deep love for life-enhancing technology, gear, and gadgets with his contributions for Fox News and FOX Business beginning in the mornings on “FOX & Friends.” Do you have a technical question ? Receive Kurt’s CyberGuy newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or a comment on CyberGuy.com.
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