Online & Exposed: What’s “Out There” About You?
Cyber criminals have caused panic and problems in virtually every industry and attacked some of the biggest players in retail, business and online media. Many consumers have been put at risk by multiple breaches at companies they trust and do business with regularly. Anyone can be victimized by attacks on companies and organizations we interact with, but there are steps you can take to minimize the exposure of various pieces of your personal information online.
What’s Out There?
Your Full Name – Names of Family Members – Current and Past Addresses –
Phone Numbers – Email Addresses – User Names – Social Media Photos and
URLs – Your Age – Current and Ex-Spouse Names – Property Records – Liens,
Judgments and Criminal Information – Past and Pending Legal Issues
Pipl.com is a search engine that doesn’t host personal information; but it does generate a list of what details various sites are offering about you when your name is searched. Log on, enter your name, email or phone number and locate your specific record in the results. Clicking on your name will give you a digital to-do list for what to do next: Opt out.
Go Beyond Google
Trying to opt out of every site that may house your personal information could feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole; however, taking the time to remove your specifics from some of the major personal information resellers can minimize your vulnerability. Most of these sites will show just enough information to entice a searcher to click and seek more. Paying a one-time or subscription fee will unlock whatever the site defines as full details, but opting out is free. The following sites will require as little as an email address to opt out, or something as sophisticated as an uploaded copy of a driver’s license or other government-issued ID with sensitive information redacted:
Completely disappearing from some of these sites will require some time and patience because you must initiate separate opt out actions for each type of information they search by – name, cell number, email address or other identifier.
It’s unlikely consumers will ever be able to fully insulate themselves from cyber crimes perpetrated against businesses and other entities they interact with, but everyone can take steps to limit what information about themselves can be seen – and sold – online.