Ok, you’ve showered, poured a cup of coffee and you’re ready to start your day. You sit down at your computer, log on, check your email, browse a few websites and then open a Word doc or spreadsheet and begin to work. What you may not know is that from the moment you logged on to the Internet many different websites, search engines, apps and devices begin collecting your data, turning your browsing behavior into a profile about you.
Next, those profiles will be sold to a brand-new industry that’s popped up in recent years called “data brokers,” who will gladly sell your profile and personal information to advertisers and just about anyone else with money. What they’re selling is all of your personal data, public records on bankruptcy and criminal records, social media and other information taken from a variety of sources. In order to stop this from happening, you have to raise your hand and “opt out,” and stop collecting or selling your data. In fact, the “opt-out” option is the only way they’re allowed to get away with this in the first place.
But here’s the problem: opting out is a very tedious, time-consuming and often difficult proposition, and many people just give up and never do successfully opt-out. However, there are ways you can stop data brokers from gathering your personal info and data and selling it. You have to start securing your information – mostly from all of the social media sites and similar platforms you visit. And, being the biggest, Facebook is also the biggest offender.
Removing Yourself from the Internet
Social media sites are one culprit, but another big category is people search sites. Nobody has the time nor inclination to sit down and sift through over 100 of those sites in order to opt out. Also, most people don’t have the money needed to hire someone to do it for them – because it can get to be very expensive.
There is a work-around, however, and it’s called OneRep. This is a unique online identity theft protection service that uses its own proprietary algorithms to search 107 different people search and data broker sites to scrub your info and opt you out of those sites, permanently deleting your unauthorized public records that can include your name, address, phone number, social media history, arrest records and all other public information that exists in the digital world. Just think what that information in the wrong hands could do to your reputation, job prospects, relationship opportunities and so much more. Bottom line – in the wrong hands or with the inaccurate information, it could ruin your life.
Instead of you sitting down and manually trying to opt out of sites like Spokeo, MyLife. BeenVerified and dozens upon dozens of other sites, OneRep will do it for you – automatically, without any chance of error. Imagine, once you sign up, with just a few clicks of your mouse your private information is opted out of those sites – all 107 of them.
Why You Need to be Vigilant
Suppose you’re looking for a job. If you’ve ever tweeted something you wish you hadn’t, or you’ve ever posted a photo on a social media site that you wouldn’t want your family to see, that job prospect will find it and your chances of being hired will evaporate. Or suppose you had an old conviction from many years ago – if it’s out there, someone will find it. Even if it isn’t true or it was an arrest that was dismissed, even an allegation of criminal behavior could ruin your chances of being hired.
That’s why you need to be vigilant. Whatever your digital footprint may show, you have to be sure it’s clean, accurate and pristine. That old adage that “once something is online it’s there forever” no longer applies, as there are ways to erase or amend that footprint from the web. Google, for example, has a boatload of information about you that they’re happy to share. If you Google your name, you may be surprised to see just how much information they have on you. Some of that data may be erroneous or just plain false, and you can ask them to remove it. You’ll need to fill out a form and submit it, and they may – or may not, remove certain data. Sometimes they’ll tell you that they can’t remove it for technical reasons, or that it’s information that is “in the public interest. “In the public interest” may be the information about financial scams, professional misconduct or malpractice, a criminal conviction or something along those lines.
OneRep has published a terrific article on how to erase yourself from the Internet, and have your information deleted from data broker websites. Once you begin, you’ll find out which data brokers have shared your personal information, so you’ll know where you’ve been exposed. After you have that information, you can determine what strategy you want to use to prevent that highly personal and sensitive information from appearing all over the web.
Steps to Take
Opting out of sites that sell your data is key. For example, Whitepages is one of the more popular search engines – with about 50 million people visiting it every month. Paid users are able to view your mobile phone number, professional permit and license numbers, information from confidential background checks and so much more. With that many visitors each month, it’s one site you want to be sure you opt out of. But there are so many others, each having their own rules and regulations required to successfully opt out Of course, using OneRep will take care of all of that work for you – so you don’t waste time struggling to do it on your own.
Another check you can run is if you’ve ever been “pwned?” It simply means your email was ever involved in a data breach at one site or another, and over 10 billion people have been breached! You just type in your email address and a report will come back. It’s just something else to have access to in order to keep your digital information private.
By removing your personal data from the Internet you’ll have the peace-of-mind needed to pursue career opportunities, relationships and all other uses without the fear of having truly private or even erroneous information being shared with anyone. The sooner you start, the safer you’ll be!