ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’ve never Googled yourself, try it. You might be surprised to find out just how much personal information pops up. It’s legal for companies to collect your info from public records, though it’s often creepy and potentially dangerous.
So how can you remove it?
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Consumer Reports has some advice on how to regain control of your identity.
Sites like BeenVerified, FastPeopleSearch, and PeopleFinders are part of the vast data broker industry that collects information about people and companies and then sells it for advertising and other purposes.
Some companies don’t tell you they’re putting up your information. And that has the potential to be risky, giving employers, online stalkers, and identity thieves access to your personal information without you ever knowing it, things like your current and former addresses, phone number and email, the names of your relatives, and even arrest records.
So how can you regain control of your information? First, you can start by checking out some well-known data broker sites for your personal information.
Some sites may require a copy of your license or other ID to delete your data. But before you send it, cross out any excess information, like your license number and Social Security number.
If you choose to do the work yourself, CR suggests making a list of the sites you’ve opted out of. That’s because you’ll need to check back periodically to make sure your info hasn’t reappeared.
Pay Someone to Do It for You
If all that seems like an impossible chore, an easier way to remove your information from these sites is to pay a service to take care of the task. A number of companies have cropped up that do the legwork, and continue to do so as the information reappears.
None of them promise to remove your data from every site, but here’s what they do offer:
DeleteMe currently removes your information from 36 sites every three months for $129 per year, or $229 per year for two people.
Kanary scans more than 2,000 sites for your information, and says it has a 70 percent success rate in removing it. The cost is $89 per year for an individual or $129.99 per year for a family.
OneRep currently removes your information from 107 sites for $100 per year (or $180 for a family), with a pricier option for cases where a person needs information removed from additional sites.
Keep in mind, it’s darn near impossible to completely remove yourself from the internet, but you can take steps to minimize your digital footprint.
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