There are many companies that are making a fortune using data and information about you, and you probably didn’t even know this was happening. They’re data brokers and data aggregators, and they’re the ones who scoop un information about consumers (like you) and then sell it to various other companies. brokers or individuals who want to use it to market and advertise their products and services to you. Others purchase it to create analytical profiles of various groups of people, which could be used in political elections, for example.
These data brokers and data aggregator companies are targeting you based on personal information that they’ve collected, which could include your name, email address, home address, phone numbers and more. They get this from sites you’ve visited. Things you’ve downloaded on the Internet, online “cookies” used to track your online navigations, buying habits and many other sources.
Here’s the problem: you don’t even know they have all of this information about you because it’s all perfectly legal.
Companies Collecting your Data
Basically, there are three types of data brokers:
1. People-search sites,
2. Data brokers that focus only on marketing, and
3. Data brokers who verify identities and ferret out fraud.
Companies that purchase or license information and data about you often create a profile about you that they ultimately sell. This information could include personal data like a recent divorce, a sign-up with a weight loss company, bankruptcies, the type of medications you take, your recent travels and hundreds of other items. The only problem is, it’s not always accurate.
This is important because they may profile you as living a risky lifestyle, having an erroneous low income, or even information about court records that might not even be related to you.
Is that the type of data about you that you want people viewing?
Of course not! And even worse, the data remain in their system for long periods of time, even though it’s been amended to be more factual.
Let’s say you did a Google search on diabetes or another medical malady for a friend. Your data may now include information that states you are a diabetic, which is absolutely false. Yet that information could be in your file, showing you as a person who has diabetes. This could be damaging to you in many ways, from credit assessment to employment opportunities.
Removing your Personal Data
Because of the inaccuracies and lack of governmental oversight of the companies that broker or aggregate data, you should consider removing your personal data and information from their databases. There’s no benefit to have your information carried by these companies. As pointed out, in many cases, it can do more harm than good.
Ok, so how do you go about removing your personal data?
Many sites allow consumers to remove their information. Credible people-search sites, like Nuwber, for example, even has a specific page where consumers can opt-out simply by submitting their profile page URL Other sites make it more difficult, requiring you to do multiple opt-outs, submitting a lot of personal information or other hoops to jump through.
For most social sites like Facebook, Twitter and others. Go to your account settings and search for an option that lets you deactivate, close or removes your account. It is found under “Privacy” or “Security.” Each site has specific instructions on what you need to do.
Removing your name and data from data brokers and aggregators is more difficult. You have to first find yourself on each site individually, and you may have to send faxes and then fill out physical paperwork to be removed. (You remember what physical paperwork is, don’t you?)
An option is to use a paid information removal sites. Where you can register to have your name removed not only from people-search sites but from data broker sites as well. Companies like DeleteMe, PrivacyDuck, and others take care of removing your information for a fee, either monthly or annually. Just be aware that if they do remove you from those sites, they’ll also remove your name from Google. Which will make it really hard for others to find you – including prospective employers.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to avoid your name listed with data brokers and others is to limit the type of information you submit. For example, never submit your birthdate, social security number or other sensitive data online. Also, limit the number of sites you submit information to – including opening credit cards online and other similar sites.
If you find your personal information on a website that includes a Social Security number or bank account and the website where it’s posted won’t remove it, you can submit a legal request to Google to have it removed. It takes work and time but can be done.
There are many data brokers and aggregators who collect your personal information. Then they resell it to companies who market to you. You can have it removed, but it takes both time and work. Social media sites let you opt-out by going to their “privacy” settings and deleting your information. You can also use paid sites to have your information removed, and the price varies by company. With data brokers, you may have to send faxes and then fill out paperwork to have your information removed.
The best strategy to prevent data brokers from having your data is
limit the type of information you submit to websites
limit the number and types of websites as well.