If you’ve never ‘Googled’ yourself before give it a try, you might be surprised to find out how much personal information comes up.
It is legal for research sites to collect your information from public records, although this is often frightening and potentially dangerous. So how can you remove it? Consumer Reports has some tips on how to take back control of your identity.
CR spoke to Konstantinos Sofos who was shocked after finding out how much of his personal information was available online.
“It’s a little scary and just bewildering to know that my whole life story is online,” Sofos said.
He told CR he didn’t intentionally upload any of this information, so how did he get there?
Sites like BeenVerified, FastPeopleSearch, and PeopleFinders are part of the vast industry of data brokers that collects information about people or businesses and then sells it for things like advertising.
Yael Grauer, Technical Editor of Consumer Reports, said, “A lot of people don’t even realize that there is tons of information about them online.
Grauer is investigating online data collection and privacy. “These companies don’t tell you they’re putting your information in place,” she said. And it can be risky, giving employers, online stalkers, or even identity thieves access to your personal information, without you ever knowing it. Things like your current and old addresses, phone number and email address, and the names of your loved ones, even arrest records.
So how do you take back control of your information? 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 login to delete your data.
Before sending it, cross out any excess information that may be on it, such as your license number or social security number. If you’d rather let someone else do the work, CR says sites like DeleteMe, Kanary, or OneRep charge around a hundred dollars a year to remove your information from a number of sites.
If you choose to do the work yourself, CR suggests making a list of sites you have unsubscribed from. This is because you will need to check back periodically to make sure your information has not reappeared.
Click here to read the full CR report.