Admit it: what you do online isn’t private. Even if you are browsing in incognito mode, you are still not anonymous. Incognito mode has some handy uses like keeping certain searches out of your autofill and suggestions. Tap or click here to find out my favorite insider secrets for getting the most out of private browsing.
What about all the information you voluntarily post, like photos of you and your family on social media? I bet you share more than you think. Here are the six common mistakes everyone makes on social media.
Then there is the data about you collected, packaged and offered to the highest bidder. If you’re concerned about your online privacy, removing yourself from the sites below is a great place to start.
Data Brokerage Websites Don’t Make It Easy
People search sites create profiles based on public information collected from the Internet. These profiles often contain sensitive data like phone numbers and addresses – and scammers and spammers rely on these websites to find leads.
You might be thinking, “Is this legal? Data brokers get away with giving people the option to opt out. Unfortunately, this is usually easier said than done. Get ready to jump through some hoops.
Two of the biggest people search sites are Intelius, which has several data brokerage websites, and BeenVerified. If you are short on time, withdraw from these two. If you have more time, keep scrolling to see the rest and follow these steps.
Intelius: It has the biggest people search sites like Classmates.com, iSearch, ZabaSearch, Peoplelookup, PublicRecords and many more. Previously, you had to fax your driver’s license to withdraw, but the process has recently become much easier.
Fortunately, if you opt out of Intelius, you opt out of the sites it controls.
To get started, click on this link and enter your name and email address.
When you find your recordings, click Select and continue.
On the next page, enter your email address to confirm your identity and enter the CAPTCHA code. Then click on Continue.
Open your email and search for a message from the sender Intelius. Click the link inside to continue. The link will expire after 24 hours. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your Junk Email folder.
You will receive a confirmation email with a reference number when the process is complete. It may take up to 72 hours for the opt-out to be fully processed.
After 72 hours, consult Intelius again. If your information still appears after receiving your confirmation, send an email to CUSTSERV@intelius.com and include the confirmation number you received.
SummerVerified: This site is a major hub for people searches and probably contains a significant amount of information about you. This data includes your full name, telephone number and postal address. To delete your information, follow these steps:
Tap or click here to visit BeenVerified’s opt-out page and search by first name, last name and state.
Click on the green “Search” button. On the results page, you can filter by city and age if you can’t see yourself.
When you find your ad, click to select it.
On the unsubscribe request page that opens, enter your email address and check the optional blue box. Fill in the required fields and check the captcha to prove that you are not automated. Then click on the green “Send verification email” box.
Check your inbox and look for an email from the Privacy sender with the subject (BeenVerified) Verifying Disable.
Open the email and click on the link inside. This will take you to a confirmation page. However, deletion won’t be immediate, so expect it to take several days to weeks before your information is gone.
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Instant checkmate: InstantCheckmate makes deleting your information easier than many other people on websites. Fill out the form at the top of the page, select the records you want to delete and follow the on-screen instructions. The process can take up to 48 hours after unsubscribing.
My life: To unsubscribe from MyLife, you need to make a phone call. You may be required to register with the site to claim your data, which is normal. Just make sure you don’t buy anything that the rep or site offers.
Call (888) 704-1900 and press 2 to begin the unsubscribe process. Once you’ve confirmed your identity, let the agent know that you want your profile deleted. Ask them to remove you from Wink.com since MyLife owns this site.
Expect a follow-up email from Pipl asking you to confirm your identity. This process can take several days.
Speak: Like Pipl, Spokeo has a dedicated unsubscribe page. Find your profile on the site and copy the URL into the unsubscribe form to process it successfully.
Apollo.io: To opt out, press or click on this link. From there, enter your email address and your apollo.io profile URL to start the process.
White pages: As with Spokeo, you will need to locate your profile using the search bar at the top of the website and paste the URL into the area of this page. You should also tap or click here to submit a support request to have your information removed. Choose I need to delete or edit an ad from the drop-down list.
In your request, request that your information also be removed from White Pages Premium. Sometimes deleted ads only disappear from basic white pages unless you specify it.
ZoomInfo: ZoomInfo has a specific unsubscribe page which requires you to fill out a form. Tap or click here to visit the page and provide your email address to begin the unsubscribe process. You should receive an email from ZoomInfo in your inbox with a code. Click the link in the email, enter the code it included, and follow the onscreen instructions to unsubscribe.
This process, thankfully, only takes a few minutes – and you won’t have to wait several days for your data to disappear.
Then prevent data brokerage sites from recovering your data
Data brokers retrieve publicly available data. You can’t do anything about public archives, but you can lock down your privacy settings on websites that you visit frequently.
Tap or click to see the steps for your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles.
Your next big goal is to stop Google from following you online. Here’s how to stop Google from profiling and tracking you.
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Check out all the latest tech on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.