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I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick and tired of seeing deeply secret information about my family on the internet. Despite everything I do to remove myself from the Internet, private things pop up all at once like my home address or a photo I’ve made sure is set to private.

There is hope to find your personal information on the Internet

With so much of our data shared on social media and the internet in general, it’s not hard to imagine how much personal data is available for others to access. The scariest and most difficult thing to imagine, however, is someone from your neighborhood or workplace after Googling your first and last name to find the exact address.

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How to scrub yourself on the web

While it’s nearly impossible to scrub all of your data online, it’s important to understand what information is available about you in order to find a manageable strategy for taking the most impactful information offline and preventing future leaks.

The main culprit in disposing of your personal information online are data broker sites called “People Search,” which allow you to enter the name of any person, usually for a few dollars, and find their contact information such as phone numbers and addresses; age; date of birth, work history, etc. WebFX reported that there is more than 4,000 data broker sites collect data on more than 500 million consumers.

One of the biggest data brokers, Acxiom, is said to have 3,000 points of data collected on each American who profits by selling to the highest bidders.

The magnitude of how much of our personal and private information is collected and sold may make you feel ready to quit before you start. Holding on to scraping the personal details of your life doesn’t just affect your privacy – it’s essential to your security. Below are strategic ways to effectively and efficiently reduce the amount of information about you that is collected and sold around the world.

How much of your private information is already out there?

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#1 Google yourself

When was the last time you tried to search for yourself? Before you embark on a quest to access all the data broker’s sites, put on your detective hat to check which sites have information about you online.

Here’s how easy it is to get started. Sign out of your Google account and Google yourself by searching for your first and last name on google.com. This is the most accurate way to see how the average user finds information about you through Google. Arguably the largest search engine on the Internet, it’s a resource that every snoop can use to glean information about you.

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#2 Make yourself untraceable

There is the collection of data from companies and the great condemnation of the compromise of privacy by hackers. Leaving unnecessary personal information online creates the risk of a stranger or potentially dangerous person arriving at your door. All it takes is gathering information from Google and other search engines to make it your goal.

Google and other search engines are constantly collecting and compiling information about you. If you have a publicly available social media or website presence, you cannot completely prevent your name from appearing in search results. These, however, are some of the key ways to make your information invisible when searching for your name.

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How to change your search engine settings for more privacy

Let’s focus on simple steps on Google as it is the largest and most used search engine on the internet.

  • Sign in to your Google account on your desktop
  • In the upper right corner of the page, there should be a ua dial pad icon
  • Click the icon for a drop-down menu
  • Click on Icon ‘Account’
  • Click ‘Data and Privacy in the left side menu
Photo tutorial of choice "Data & privacy" on Google.

Image of the command to select “Data and privacy” from Google.
(Fox News)

  • On the ‘Data and Privacy’ page, scroll down to ‘Historical Setting’ to choose from
Data and privacy screen on Google.

Data and privacy screen on Google.
(Fox News)

  • Under ‘History Settings’, click on ‘Web and App Work’
History settings page on Google with instructions on how to personalize web and app activity and YouTube history.

History settings page on Google with instructions on how to personalize web and app activity and YouTube history.
(Fox News)

  • under’Work Controllers’, click ‘close’ so it will stop collecting information from your Google services and sites. Or if you’d like to keep it on, you can “turn on” automatic deletion so that it deletes this information periodically. You can repeat these steps in your “YouTube history.”
Google settings allow you to do so "Delete automatically" the information he always includes.

Google’s settings allow you to “auto-remove” the information it collects on a regular basis.
(Fox News)

How much of your private information is already out there?

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#3 Invest in Removal Services (best result)

In addition to the large number of data vendor sites that link to your data, the sad fact is that many of these sites continue to collect information about you both from public records and internet usage even after the data has been previously deleted. It never ends.

Although it is possible to go to each site and manually request that your information be removed, you will be doing this without stopping. Unfortunately, there is little regulation when it comes to data brokers. Just because you’re removing your data from the web doesn’t mean that data brokers will suddenly stop selling it again months from now.

While no service promises to remove all of your data from the Internet, these top services are great if you want to stay on top of things and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites over a long period of time.

The first time I tried one, everything I didn’t want to see about myself was gone. Months later, it slipped back into Google’s cracks. That’s when I learned that subscribing to removal services that regularly scan and extract private data is the most effective way to go.

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Top option: OneRep

OneRep is my favorite. It has a very clean interface, and you will be surprised how much of your private information will be found and eventually deleted. OneRep offers both monthly and annual plans for the removal of personal information. At press time, OneRep is scanning 191 websites.

OneRep starts at $8.33/month for one person when they choose their annual plan, or $15/month for your family (up to six people) on their annual plan. Unlike the services mentioned below (both DeleteMe or Canary), OneRep offers a free five-day trial.

BrandYourself

Starting at $49.99/month (billed annually at $299.99), BrandYourself will remove your disclosed information from 35+ sites. Although this company has a higher price than others, it offers cart features to find out if your sensitive information is on the Dark Web ($14.99/year), can improve Google Results to control what people find when they use Google ($44.99) /year) and helps you clean up profiles your social media presence by finding and removing any flagged posts and photos that may be taking your chances ($14.99/year).

Delete Me

Starting at $10.75/month (billed annually at $129), the standard plan for one person for one year includes removing your information from over 30 data broker sites. In addition to receiving a detailed report within 7 days of registration, this annual service scans and removes personal information from websites every three months. If you happen to receive your information from a data broker’s site that is not included in your service, you can submit a removal request. DeleteMe will research whether it is able to delete your data from that site or not. Although DeleteMe is similar to OneRep, its annual plan is more expensive.

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