Have you ever googled yourself? If you did, you’d probably be surprised at how much information is on the Internet about you. I’m talking about personal information, including private information you probably wouldn’t want anyone to view. That can include posts, photos, background information from your past and so much more.
There are many reasons why people want to remove their personal information from the Internet. For example, they may have had their identity hacked and there is a lot of faulty information on the net about them. They may be searching for a job and want to remove social media posts or photos that were posted when they were much younger. Or they may be in a relationship and don’t want certain information accessible to others. Whatever the reason, the desire is there to delete that information from the Internet and from public data brokers. Just know – it’s not that easy to do.
Welcome to Data Brokers
Where does all that information about you come from? Every time you search on the Internet, and every time you type a topic into Google, for example, it’s tracked. Google follows every click and every online search that you make on their search engine, and ends up selling that information to data brokers. It’s big business, because that information is used by advertisers to fine tune their target marketing, only showing you banner ads and other ads and information based on your past searches. It’s called a “digital footprint,” and everyone that goes online and does searches or posts photos or information on social media leaves a digital footprint.
If you find sensitive information about yourself, like social security numbers of protected health information on Google, you can write to them and ask them to remove the information. At times they may comply, and at other times they’ll tell you they can’t remove it because it’s in the “public interest.” There isn’t a clear definition of exactly what “is in the public interest,” but they often use that as a way out of having to delete data. Be persistent!
Data broker and people search sites collect information about you. Sites like Spokeo, BeenVerified and WhitePages all collect and sell information about you. What type of information? It depends, but WhitePages for example has your name, landline and cellular numbers, any professional licenses and permit numbers, data that’s collected from personal background checks, social media and so much more.
It’s all legal, and it would take an inordinate amount of time if you were to try to sit down and opt out of every one of those sites, along with every social media site you’ve ever joined and posted on. It’s basically a full time job. But you must persevere, because everything that’s stated online about you must be accurate.
Another reason to get faulty data about yourself off the Internet is because it makes you susceptible to harm. Your information could be accessed by stalkers, for example. Your data is also a tremendous source of scam and phishing emails, robocalls and more. In some cases, that erroneous information has cost people relationships and employment opportunities. You have to be relentless in removing that data, just as the bad actors and cybercriminals are relentless in pursuing you for illicit purposes and gain.
The worst thing that can happen is that those sites have inaccurate information about you. That can include social media activities and posts, criminal background information that may have nothing to do with you and a lot of other data. Start by using Nuwber, an online tool that will verify your true identity and provide accurate information about you. Enter your name and email address, and if you find information there that is false, like a police report or a criminal complaint, or even an allegation of criminal behavior – you’ll need to make sure that false information is removed and that only accurate information is available.
One of the reasons why opting out of many different sites is so difficult is because each site has its own set of protocols to remove data and information. The average person has information about themselves posted on more than 46 different sites, and there are actually 107 data broker sites that could have personal information about you – and a lot of it can be erroneous.
Sure, you can go to the data broker and people search sites and follow their directions on how to remove your data and opt out, but as stated earlier, it would take far too much time to do this, Instead, you can use OneRep, a company that has proprietary algorithms that will find every site (there are over 100 of them!) and automatically remove your data and opt you out.
You could also hire someone to do this manually, but it would be very costly due to the amount of time involved and the amount of expertise required to do it properly. Your best bet is to do it automatically, ensuring that every single site is scrubbed. OneRep is your go-to source to get this done.
Just to be clear, removing data about yourself from the Internet can be an arduous process. But it’s absolutely worth the time and effort involved in order to have only accurate information about you available. The risks are simply too great to leave bad data out there.