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How You Can Protect What Matters Most
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Due to our regular use of technology, we all know a certain amount of our personal information is shared and available in “public directories”. It’s an inevitable part of modern life. We use social networks, we log into online accounts, we set personal preferences, and more… but in so doing, we don’t realize the volume of unregulated personal information that becomes available. When I learned just how much, I was shocked. And I decided it was time to do something about it. Being able to have some control over how much private and personal information is accessible by the public is critical these days. So here’s how you can protect what matters most.
To start, do a quick experiment
Google yourself and your city and/or zip code. Now try your mobile phone number. Most commonly, the top results will be the websites of data brokers – those who compile directories/databases of personal, private information. This is because, just as you searched what is out there about you, over ten percent of all Google searches are for people.
That’s what makes buying and selling information such big business. Personal information is very much a currency. In fact, tech-savvy thieves bypass traditional thefts for more lucrative opportunities: personal information. And that’s the danger of these databases – they will sell it to nearly anyone who will pay.
Where does this information come from in the first place?
Unfortunately, most of it comes directly from us. We’re on social networks, we make comments and mention names and activities, we are connected to our friends and family, we have email addresses… the list goes on and on. Add to that all the public record information such as the value of our homes, legal cases, divorces, real estate transactions and more – and there is a wealth of information out there. Information that can damage personal reputations and even endanger personal security.
Your personal “brand” is included
You might not think about this one but employment and income-potential is affected. Employers are using these databases to learn more before hiring. While the law bars employers from using data to be overtly discriminatory, they can search these directories for any red flags or warning signs. This could span from flippant or incendiary comments on social media to the technological footprint of a reckless past – all of which can end up impacting your financial life.
How can we take action?
I spoke with Rob Shavell, CEO of Abine, and Rob has a solution—Delete Me. His service offers two options:
Option 1 is a free guide with step-by-step instructions for opting out of the data broker’s directories. Although very time consuming, there are immediate results. You can’t delete yourself from the internet, but you can control a large amount of the personal information that is out there. Because we want everyone to take action, we’ve placed this on our SavingsAngel website. Just visit – http://savingsangel.com/deleteme and click on DIY.
Option 2 is Delete Me’s automated services that handle information control on your behalf, with annual fees starting as low as one hundred dollars. As Rob Shavell says, “We try to keep our prices reasonable; we like everyone to be able to afford it.” Delete Me removes all of your personal information records to get your digital fingerprint, making them as clean as possible across dozens of sites. They send you reports so that you can see the process in action. People tell him they love the service because they see the evidence. The report comes straight to your email inbox, so you can see everywhere you were opted out. He just completed over ten million different opt-outs. And for the same price, he is continuing to add more and more sites.
You may be thinking, “Well, Josh, you’re all over the internet because of who you are and what you do.” True, but that isn’t all that affects personal information. No matter who you are, your personal information is publicly accessible. But with the help of affordable options like Delete Me, your Google search can diminish from terrifying transparency to a far more opaque search result.