This is Part 1 of a five part series on the importance of Keeping Your Personal Information Private.
The ready availability and sale of your personal information on the Internet invades your privacy and represents a threat to your physical and financial security. The objective of this series is to provide you with some tips and proven approaches for controlling the amount and type of your personal information that is being compiled and sold on the Internet without your knowledge or consent.
Today we’ll start with a look at Who is selling your personal information and why.
Literally anyone can search for a person on the Internet using such key words as:
- find someone
- locate a person
- people locate
- license plate records
- bank account locate
- employment locate
- phone record search
- social security number trace
- property record information
- and, more…………..
Searching on these key words will yield the URLs of hundreds of internet-based data broker companies that provide various levels of consumer information on line. Some even provide a good deal of information at no charge. Most provide a teaser amount of information and then charge a fee for the more interesting (and potentially damaging) data. Experiment a little and you’ll quickly discover that you don’t need to hire a private investigator to obtain almost any level of personal information about virtually anyone. And, of course, if you can find detailed sensitive information about someone else, than anyone can find your information as well.
The simple (and sad) fact of the matter is that information brokers, analytical companies and others are compiling vast amounts of your personal information – addresses, family members, relatives, interests, preferences, personal phone numbers and email addresses, financial history and, much more – all without your knowledge or consent. This information is then often combined with public records data to create comprehensive individual profiles which are then sold to virtually anyone willing to pay a small fee.
Internet-based information brokerages and data providers are surfacing all over the country. Why? Because it’s big business – a multi-billion dollar business that includes the three national credit bureaus, many marketing companies and entities like Been Verified, Spokeo, Private Eye and dozens of others. To be fair, many of these companies use your personal information for relatively benign marketing purposes. However, fifty or so of the newer market entries were formed for the exclusive purpose of selling your detailed sensitive information to anyone on the Internet without regard for your privacy. Unfortunately, these businesses are neither licensed nor regulated. As an example, a convicted felon in California is operating one of the largest information brokerage businesses in the country – because he can.
The important take away from today is that virtually anyone can find just about everything they might want to know about you on the internet for any purpose – targeting, stalking, bullying, revenge, embarrassment, identity theft and much more.
In the next segment, we’ll begin to provide you with important steps you can take to regain control of your private information and, in so doing, significantly enhance your physical and financial security.
Part 2 next: Dealing with tracking software.
Protecting your personal information in an on-line world is a never ending and time consuming, but very necessary process for individual and family safety – especially today.