Regaining Your Privacy Online
How do you regain your privacy in the online world? You may have heard about online “People Search” services. These services allow you to search “public” records to find out detailed information about other people — and of course other people can find out information about you, too.
These databases are used by potential and current employers to determine if you’re lieing on your applications for work, they’re used by banks and other financial institutions to see if you should qualify for a loan, and they’re used by debt collection agencies to perform “skip traces.” These include sites like Spokeo and BeenVerified, which rely on public databases and records when they charge you for the “background checks” or other detailed personal information they advertise
When I searched one of these sites for information about me, about 50% of the information it showed about me was accurate. Records that people didn’t worry about 15+ years ago are now pulled into these massive online databases. Real Estate transactions, such as that home you bought, are all online. Arrest records. Court cases. And a lot more.
The IRS is in the game, too. They are asserting their right to read your emails, track your Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media accounts.
With Government, Employers, neighbors and more tracking our information online, how do we clean it up?
There are a few services available to clean up your credit ratings online. You’re likely familiar with the credit bureau services. You can contact them directly to clean up incorrect information stored there. The three big ones are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
To clean up your online life?
Safe Shepherd lets you get started for free, and will do the initial search, alert you to the results, and scrub out most basic information completely for free. If you want monitoring to make sure your data doesn’t come back, want on-demand privacy checks, or need someone to tackle the particularly troublesome search services, you may want to sign up for their paid plans, running from $14/mo to $65/yr
I tried the free version Safe Shepherd myself. I’ll be checking it out further over the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you’d like to hear the results.
Although Congress continues to try and put a “Do Not Track” bill in place, such as the latest boondoggle from Senators Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Blumenthal (D-Conn.), there is little that the Federal government can do to resolve this problem.
We’re on our own to keep our information secure and to ourselves.
Want to check out what can happen with a social media background check? Gizmodo ran a check on a number of their employees and found that one of their employees wasn’t employable. Heavy drug use and other knock-out problems were found in his social media footprint. But it was wrong.