How to remove yourself from the internet and people search sites
Whenever you use a search engine, pieces of your personal information end up online. This information circulates the web, becoming accessible to hackers and scammers. In effect, the risk of you being targeted by identity thieves and other cybercriminals increases. That’s why being cautious and mindful of your digital footprint is simply necessary.
How does your personal information end up online?
Everything you do online leaves behind a trail of information. Whether it's just a routine shopping spree during sale season or whether it’s a new post you share with your friends on social media sites. All this data can be available if only you have the right tools.
Sometimes we are aware of the information we are sharing, like on social media. Other times, websites use our personal information without us even knowing. This is one of the reasons why after looking for a specific product in your web browser, you will experience targeted advertising on the websites you visit next.
What’s more, with the digitalization of public records, private information, such as your phone numbers, home address, marital status, and court records, are now visible online. With so much sensitive data out there, it should be no surprise that people have found a way to make money from it, enter entities such as data brokers and people search sites.
Where do data brokers and people search sites obtain your personal information from?
Most data brokers and people search sites strongly emphasize that they only gather your personal information from legitimate sources. These sources include public records, your public social media accounts, websites you visit, and apps you download. That said, they never directly divulge their sources.
Many entities take advantage of this data, from marketing companies to various businesses. It allows them to craft personalized advertising, potentially leading you to purchase their product. The financial sector has also started using this data, for example, to check your loan eligibility.
Why is having all that information available online dangerous?
With cybercrime at an all-time high, you are more at risk than ever. Hackers and scammers can use your personal information, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Companies can tell plenty about you by gathering and then analyzing data, both that you post and that is posted about you. This includes sensitive information, as well as everyday preferences.
Finally, companies have begun performing background checks on their potential employees. Scary, isn’t it?
How to remove yourself from the internet
Seeing how your digital footprint can be used against you, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to wipe their online existence. After all, you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft or not get your dream job because of some old photo from a party ten years ago. So how can you up your online privacy?
For starters, delete any old and unused online accounts you may have. Having trouble remembering them? Go through your email accounts and look for welcome messages. Next, take a look at your old social media posts. If you aren’t ready to remove your social media accounts just yet, this can be a good way to begin. Also, optimize your privacy preferences, ensuring only a close circle can access your personal data.
Last but not least, opt out from data broker sites, and people search websites, as these entities not only collect but also sell data, typically without you even knowing.
How can you opt-out from people search sites
The data broker industry is massive, and people search sites are just one of its parts. That said, just by opting out of them, you can significantly increase your online privacy. To do this, head to a data broker or people search site opt-out page and send a removal request.
With dozens of such websites, sending out all these requests can take forever. Fortunately, there is a service that can make the entire process much easier.
Keep your personal info personal
Incogni is a data removal service that, for $11.49 a month, automatically sends opt-out requests to data brokers and people search sites on your behalf. Essentially, it works to remove you from their listings, in effect, minimizing the chance you appear on Google Search results.
The great thing about this service is that it takes care of the removal process for you. You won’t have to lift a finger. Then, after letting it run, check back to see the progress and observe your digital footprint improve.