Technology is a great thing, but it doesn’t come without a cost. With instant information at almost everyone’s fingertips, one’s personal life can become, in the blink of an eye, not so personal. Your online privacy isn’t always so private.
You see, there are groups called data brokers. What they do is gather your personal online information and sell those records to other groups. These brokers and marketers have scads of details on us, and more often than not – WITHOUT OUR KNOWLEDGE!
Where They Get Their Information
Well, whenever we as a public share ourselves:
- On Social Media
- Sign up for a Subscription of Some Sort
- Place an Order on the Phone or On the Internet
- Join a Store or Service Loyalty Program
- Sign Up for or Extend a Warranty
- Register for Almost ANYTHING
It is virtually impossible to stay under the radar.
While most of our information is not used for specifically malicious reasons, our privacy leaks still create issues in one way or another. These records are mostly used for marketing purposes. The publics stored data tell marketers a lot about how we live…what we purchase, what our interests are, our financial situations. This is important, in that it gives them a way to know who to target and how best to “lure us in”. They were us to be comfortable, and enjoy our shopping experiences so that we:
- Stay Longer
- Buy More
- Come Back Often
Ok so that’s all well and good – BUT
This can make us vulnerable and accessible. First, we don’t know how these companies are going to use our information and often some of the data is not accurate. They rarely verify that the information they amass is on the up and up. Our reputation online is as important as our reputations in our real lives. Inaccuracies can ruin our credit ratings, thus limiting the ability to say get loans at better interest rates. When making a large purchase, such as a home or vehicle, getting the best interest rate can be a HUGE difference in the payback amount.
Information About YOU
Here are some of the things that are collected and stored about you and your life:
- Your Basic ID such as name, birthdate, address, phone numbers, email addresses and social security and driver’s license numbers.
- Financial information, such as annual income, credit score, credit cards, loans, the stock you own.
- Demographics, which is your age, possibly your height and weight, where you were born, what education you’ve had.
- Knowledge or your health including prescriptions you’ve had filled and your insurance plans.
- Purchase History…anything and everything that you’ve purchased. What entertainment you enjoy, your favorite foods and restaurants, how much you spend.
- Legal data including court records, your travel history, social online presence and more.
So How the Public Can Protect Themselves
Delete or deactivate your shopping and Web service accounts along with social accounts.
Clear your browser’s cookies often.
Limit who you give your real email address to. If you need to register for a free service or get a one-time discount, set up and use a temporary email service, like Temp Mail.
Use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data. This will make it more difficult for data brokers to track who you are.
Opt out from any and all data brokers that collect your personal information.
But probably the easiest way is to subscribe to the online privacy service like OneRep.com. The service will do all monotonous and tedious opt-out work for you and will continue scanning the web even after complete removal (in case your records reappear somewhere).
OneRep is an easy-to-use, online service that assists you with the removal of unwanted personal information and records, from the web. This allows you to gain a little bit of privacy back from Data Brokers and Consumer Data firms that often trade and sell your personal information without your knowledge.
After sign up for a free trial, which takes less than 60 seconds. After that, you will be taken to the user’s Dashboard that lists every website the service monitors that currently has information pertaining to you and/or a family member.
OneRep offers very reasonable monthly and annual membership plans. Consumers can check their dashboard and see the removal process of their records any time of the day or night. I emailed them with my privacy concerns and got a quick response with recommendations how to protect my online identity. They also offer free opt-out guides in case you want to remove your records by yourself from the most popular data broker websites like Spokeo, White Pages, TruthFinder, etc. YOUR PRIVACY IS IMPORTANT…and although it’s not possible in this day and age to keep all your information off the record, you can do something to make sure that your information is accurate and kept out of the wrong hands!