Have you ever Googled your name? You’ll likely be astonished at just how much of your personal information pops up.
Many people would be shocked to know how much of their personal information is “out there” for all to see.
Plenty of companies operate just to collect data from public records and share it. It’s completely legal.
“Wow. This is unreal. How do they know all this stuff?” said Konstantinos Sofos when he saw what his Google search revealed. “It’s a little scary and just unnerving to know that my whole life history is online.”
Like the rest of us, Konstantinos did not intentionally upload any of that information. So how did it get there?
Sites such as BeenVerified, FastPeopleSearch and PeopleFinders are part of the vast data broker industry that collects information about people or companies and then sells it for things like advertising.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s tons of information about them online,” explained Yael Grauer, Consumer Reports’ Tech Editor. He investigates online data collection and privacy. “These companies don’t tell you they’re putting up your information.”
And it not only gives employers, but also online stalkers, even identity thieves access to that information. Things like your current and former addresses, phone numbers and email, the names of relatives, even arrest records.
But 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte shows us ways to regain control of at least some of your information.
You can start by checking well-known data broker sites. Often on the bottom of the home page you’ll find a link labeled Opt Out or Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Some sites may require a copy of your license or ID to delete your data. Before sending it though, cross out any excess information on there, such as your license number.
You can also pay to have someone else do the work. CR says sites like DeleteMe, Kanary or OneRep charge around a hundred dollars a year to remove your info from a number of sites. It at least reduces the amount of your information that comes up in a simple search.
If you do the work yourself, make a list of sites you’ve opted out of. You’ll need to check back periodically to make sure your info hasn’t reappeared.