Most internet users probably spend more time watching cat videos than protecting their personal information

fingers_on_keyboardAsk any of your friends how much time they spend per week or per month watching videos online and the answers may not seem too shocking.  Thirty minutes, two hours, and likely even more time.  Now ask the same friends how much time they spend working to help keep their personal information out of the hands of other people online and they will probably pause to think for a couple of seconds before telling you “none”.

Why is it that your friends, and probably yourself also, have spent little to no time trying to police the personal information that is currently available about you online? You probably had no idea it was as easy to get as it really is and almost easier to remove or limit access to.

Right now, your personal information is being shuffled around for a price by data brokers. Everything about you to include your name, age, phone number, address, information about traffic tickets you received, bankruptcy information, names of neighbors, names of relatives and more.  This data is not only obtained from federal, state and local sources, but also from the magazine subscriptions you filled out, the contest entry form for that trip to the Bahamas you completed a few years back, the registration on a popular site that may have sold your information to a third party.  The information is out there and everyone has access to it.  In some instances, the information is free.  In others, people are paying money to learn more about you.  You personal information is being sold.

Start removing your info here

There are websites out there that make money offering your information.  Many of them only require a first and last name and a city and state or maybe even just a state to see records that could contain a lot of personal information about you.  Even if there are multiple people in your area that have the same name, it would not be hard to figure out which one was you based on the age listed and maybe the previous known addresses.

Now, what can this information be used for?  Some sites offer it as a way to find people you have lost contact with.  Others may offer the information as a way to do a sort of informal background check on someone.  But all the legitimate people search sites make it very clear that they are not a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). They also mention that their site can’t be used for employment, credit or tenant screening, or related purpose.  Does that mean that everyone that uses their site to research someone is honest?  Possibly not.  What if you were an employer and had someone come in an apply for a job.  Imagine yourself plugging their information into one of the many people search sites and returning a result which shows multiple traffic tickets, maybe a bankruptcy, or some other information which will help you to form a preconceived notion about what type of person they are.  Are you just as likely to hire them?  Hopefully the answer would be “I would never look up there information as a means of employment screening” and we just leave it at that, but you probably get my point.

So, why don’t people spend a little bit of time each week, or each month, limiting access to their personal information online?  They probably don’t know that it is even an option.  If you were to run a search of your name through one of the people search sites that also included your household income in the results. would you be happy that everyone that looks up your name with that site has such easy access to that information.  I think it is safe to say that the majority would say no.  So, why not start limiting access to that information today?

Click this link and you will see a list of 20 plus people search sites that probably list detailed personal information for you.  We have detailed instructions on how to request to remove your information from their system, or in some cases, hide it or limit what is seen about you if that is the best the site offers.  You need to keep in mind that the people search sites are a business and they are also not required by law to remove your information from their system, so just because they list details about your personal life, the fact they are giving you a chance to remove your information is pretty generous of them.

By now I hope you gave some serious consideration to dedicating a couple of hours a week or each month to limiting the personal information about you online, because in the end if it is left untouched, it is nobody’s fault but your own.  In reality, we are only putting the finger in the dam to try to stop it from leaking and your personal information will continue to be shared, but if we can keep even one person from having easy access to it for nefarious purposes, then any time spent working on limiting access to it will be time well spent.

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