When it comes to keeping an online presence, privacy and security is paramount. But you might be unaware of how much of your personal information and data is actually floating around online. And all it takes for someone to get a hold of that data is for them to purchase that information from data brokers, such as people search sites. Luckily, the folks at Incogni are here to help ensure that that doesn’t happen. Ultimately helping you take back control and remove your personal information from the internet so you can keep your data private and secure. Before we get into how you can remove your personal information from the internet though let’s break down what’s actually happening.
Who or what are data brokers?
Data brokers are individuals or sometimes organizations who acquire loads of personal information and then sell it off to other unknown organizations for profit. This information can be gathered through a number of different means. Some of your data is freely available online through social media sites. Of course this all depends on what and how much of that information you share. The less you share then potentially the less there is to snatch up.
Data brokers can also acquire your personal information from publicly available sources. Or by purchasing it. And that information can be gathered by simply using other sites where you do give the information freely. So even if you share less information openly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t still online for brokers to get their hands on.
The reality is that if you use any sort of websites or services online, there is a chance that one or some of them may be selling your data off to brokers. Who can then turn around and sell it to someone else. Which is likely something you wouldn’t consent to if you were asked. This is where Incogni comes in. They deal with data brokers on your behalf and get your information back.
What are people search sites?
These are just a type of data broker. People search sites will scrape the internet for information that can be acquired publicly as a means to help build profiles on you. Once they have compiled enough personal information they then sell those records to people who want to purchase it from them. There are tons of sites out there like this. Especially in the US as there aren’t any federal laws on data protection. Sites like BeenVerified and Intelius are two good examples of a people search site.
What do data brokers do with your data?
Lots of things. The possibilities aren’t endless but there are multiple opportunities for brokers to make a profit off of your personal information. Perhaps the biggest opportunity would be selling your information to marketing or advertising agencies. Where you then get bombarded with targeted ads.
Another possibility is selling that information off to people search sites. You may or may not have heard of or encountered these personally before. But they’re out there. And people can then pay a fee to find information about you for whatever reason. Data brokers can sell your information to these sites who then charge a fee to strangers. Basically anyone who might have an interest in getting a hold of your personal information.
A worrying thought. Another possibility is gathering your information for Human Resources teams for a company you may be applying for a job at. You get the picture. And the point is your data should be yours and yours alone unless you have consented to having it made available.
What kinds of data or information do brokers acquire?
Unfortunately, all kinds. This can include but isn’t limited to your name, address or addresses, email, phone number, age, gender, education, financial details, your employment history, relatives, and even social security number. Essentially all kinds of information you don’t want just anybody having access to.
How to remove your personal information from the internet
Believe it or not it is possible to do this without any outside parties. More specifically you can get this all done by yourself. But the process might not be that simple or it may take more time than you’re willing to put in. If you’re the type of person who will stick it out then here’s what you can do.
For starters, you’ll need to figure out every search site or broker that has your information. You can usually do this by searching your name on Google and adding other pieces of identifying information to the query to narrow things down. That’s where the time commitment comes in. And depending on how many places your information is available, the time needed to locate every search site or broker may be a while.
Naturally the next thing you would need to do is make a request from those places to take your information offline. Which you may or may not be successful in depending on how willing these places are to work with you. Then you have to worry about whether or not your information is reacquired down the line.
Let Incogni handle the headache
You could do all the above yourself if you’re diligent. Or you could take the easy route and let Incogni do the work for you.
The fact of the matter is there isn’t really much that can be done about keeping your information off of people search sites or other data broker datacenters for good. At least not in the way that you may think. As mentioned earlier data brokers and people search sites can reacquire your information in the future. Very likely using the same methods as before. However, Incogni will routinely check to make sure your information is left off of these sites.
Incogni is a subscription service, and what the service gets you is making sure your personal information stays private. As long as your subscription is active, Incogni will check these sites periodically to make sure that the information hasn’t been put back up. If it has, it’ll ensure it gets taken back offline.
Even better is that right now Incogni is offering a 55% discount on the annual subscription for Black Friday by using the code “ANDROID” at checkout. Moreover, with the added benefit of a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s no downside to giving it a shot and experiencing firsthand what Incogni can offer you.
How to protect your personal information going forward
There are lots of things you can do but one that people may not think of a lot is just to be more aware of what it is you’re putting online. With social media being so prevalent in people’s lives these days it’s not surprising that a lot of users will share all kinds of details about their personal lives. So your first step to protecting your personal information going forward should be to just share less information. Or at the very least share less important personal information.
You could also consider using a VPN service like Surfshark to ensure that your browsing is secure and kept private. A VPN or virtual private network essentially paves you a special highway for your data to travel on as you use the internet. Your data is also encrypted so it stays safe. And it hides your IP address so you can browse with more peace of mind. Coincidentally, they’re also great for accessing region-specific content on services like Disney+.
In addition to these things it’s important to be more aware of possible phishing scams via email or text messages. Don’t click links from unknown sources. On the same token, don’t download files from contacts or sources you don’t trust. As these can lead to phishing your personal information.