If you’ve never typed your name in an online search, try it. You might be surprised to find out just how much personal information pops up.
It’s legal for companies to collect your info from public records, though it’s often creepy and potentially dangerous. So how can you remove it? Consumer Reports has some advice on how to regain control of your identity.
Sites like BeenVerified, FastPeopleSearch, and PeopleFinders are part of the vast data broker industry that collects information about people and companies and then sells it for advertising and other purposes.
Some companies don’t tell you they’re putting up your information. That has the potential to be risky, giving employers, online stalkers and identity thieves access to your personal information without you knowing it, things like your current and former addresses, phone number and email, the names of your relatives, and even arrest records.
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So how can you regain control of your information? First, you can start by checking out some well-known data broker sites for your personal information.
Some sites may require a copy of your license or other ID to delete your data. But before you send it, cross out any excess information, like your license number and Social Security number.
If you’d rather let someone else do the work, CR says sites like DeleteMe, Kanary, and OneRep charge around $100 a year to remove your information from a number of sites.
If you choose to do the work yourself, CR suggests making a list of the sites you’ve opted out of. That’s because you’ll need to check back periodically to make sure your info hasn’t reappeared.