Personal Information on the Internet

Monday, August 27, 2012

Identity theft is one of the country's fastest-growing crimes. A frightening amount of our personal information ends up on the internet, often through no fault of our own. Did you know that in many instances your personal information can be found online?  Did you know that people can gain access to contact information, age, photos and email addresses online?

One method in which some of our personal information can be found online is through social networking sites.  When someone posts a picture online or posts an idea, it is stored on the internet.  People need to be very careful of what they post online.  Even though they might think it’s protected, it may not be, and tech savvy hackers might be able to gain access to this information.

To help remove your personal information from the internet and to make sure that no more personal information is found,  below are some steps to reduce and remove items.

  • Databases are sometimes the culprit for taking your personal information that is found online and sell it to various vendors.  One thing that can be done about this is to find out the database operator, or the data aggregator.  Once you have found them, you can then submit a request to have your information removed from their site.

  • There are now companies that specialize in personal information removal. They check the internet, marketing listings and data aggregators and remove your information for a fee. Once they have you on their list, they typically continue to check for your details and remove them whenever they crop up again.

  • If you subscribe to sites, or networking sites, it’s a good idea to remove your accounts, or unsubscribe if you don’t want any of your personal information on the internet. Removing information from sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, PayPal can help.

  • If you suspect that some websites are not deleting your information, deliberately provide them with fake information that they can save.

  • Delete all forum posts, websites or blogs that you may have created in the past. With time, search engines will remove them from their search results.

  • Obtain an email address that does not contain your name or company name, and provide fake information if the email provider prompts you for your details.

  • Remove any tagged photos of yourself on the internet.  This is specifically important for networking sites.

Entering information onto the internet is a fairly simple process; however, removing information from the internet can be a fairly lengthy process.  If it’s important to you to keep your personal information off the internet, be weary in providing any personal information to websites.