Keep Your Private Information Safe Online
How do you keep your private information safe online? Read ahead for important information about how to keep your private information safe online today.
Your private information listed on publicly accessible websites potentially puts the safety and security of you, your family and your residence at significant risks. Personal information and financial data posted on Whitepage sites exposes important aspects of your life to cyber-criminals and regular criminals alike. At best these breaches of privacy subject you to spam calls and junk mail. At worst they cause you to be victimized by identity theft, stalking, break-in’s, robberies and assaults.
Multiple identity and information protection services are available by top companies today. Prices for each company and service vary with each provider, although many of the best companies on the market today offer free trials prior to you making purchase commitments. Read ahead for important information about how to keep your private information safe online today.
Why Protecting Your Personal Information Is More Important Today
One vital truth about the modern world is how its unlimited conveniences and methods for achieving instant-gratification also create virtual and real-life threats. In fact, the virtual environments facilitated by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are arguably just as real as real-life in 2021. While this seems like both an over-simplification and an exaggeration at the same time, many U.S. residents spend an average of two hours and twenty-five minutes using social media every day. As is evidenced by the 2020-2021 election turmoil and a broad rash of firings/cancellations: What happens online no longer stays online.
U.S. consumers also expect near-instant purchasing experiences in 2021. Because of these consumer demands companies were compelled to create systems where personal/financial details are saved for convenient instant checkout options. Facebook practically forces users to log in automatically by clicking on a response to an email notification unless specific settings are turned on/off inside your account. For all these reasons and many more, protecting your personal information is more important today than ever.
How to Keep Your Private Information Off the Web
The first step to keeping your private information off the web is a step most Americans are unwilling to do in modern times. Deleting all your social media and purchasing/shopping accounts takes a large portion of your at-risk information off the internet. Keep in mind that many social media companies continue tracking you and collecting your data post-account deletion. Deleting purchase/shopping accounts is more inconvenient because so much of daily life is handled online in 2021. Be certain to ask about data collection policies and what must truly happen for your accounts and information to be entirely deleted from all applicable company/website records. In most instances you must directly contact the social media company to have your information completely deleted and all tracking ceased.
Data collection sites are the bane of privacy seekers’ existence around the world. For example, sites such as PeopleFinder, Whitepages.com and Spokeo gather data collected from all your online activity, then sell it back to third-parties for marketing purposes. Data collection sites make it challenging to get information deleted as well, so it is advisable to hire services such as DeleteMe to assist in the process.
Remove your information from phone company websites if applicable. Join federally-facilitated no-call lists and insist your phone company not sell your contact information. Utilize websites such as www.whois.com to locate the domain name of various websites posting your information without your permission. Contact private website facilitators and ask them to remove your data as well. Google allows you to legally request your information/content to be removed from its engines/databases as well, although the process is involved.
Make sure any accounts you do leave online have very strong passwords. Avoid clicking on suspicious links and especially unrecognized attachments. Pay attention to your Wi-Fi network and look for suspicious activity/users. Keep bluetooth on your computer, tablet and phone turned off unless absolutely necessary. Finally, delete all your email accounts if you truly want to keep your private information off the web. For most, this is not feasible.
How to Remove Information from Whitepage Sites
What is a Whitepage site and why does it contain personal information? Gone are the days where your name, phone number and home address were your choice to include in paper phone books. Whitepages.com is one of the primary data collection sites active today. Removing your personal information from Whitepages.com is a complex and tedious process, which ironically involves giving up aspects of your personal data (such as your phone number) to complete.
The process involves navigating to the Whitepages website. Once there, enter your name & address then click to View Details once your results are generated. Be careful to select the correct result as many other people likely share your name. Your search results generate a URL specific to your data. Copy the you-specific URL and past it into the Whitepages.com Opt-out portal. Select Remove Me and your reason for the request. Enter your phone number when prompted in order to receive a mandatory security code via automated phone call. Enter your received code on your phone. Once the call is successfully completed, refresh the Whitepages site page with your code on it to see your final results.
Typical Identity Protection Services Offered (and how much they cost)
Many identity protection companies offer the same services, while some specialize in specific data removal processes. A top feature/service provided involves your chosen service contacting data collection and other sites on your behalf to have your information deleted. Notifications/alerts are sent to you if your data is listed/used on the dark web, for check cashing requests and multiple suspect scenarios. Potential fraud is detected. You are also alerted if/when another person looks up your name/information and more.
DeleteMe costs $129/yr (1-person/1-year) and provides ongoing follow-up protection services several times each year. PrivacyGuard costs $19.99/$24.99 for Credit/Total Protection plans respectively. LifeLock, IDShield and Identity Force all offer varying lengths of free trials. IdentityIQ has plans starting at only $8.99/mo. Additional top identity/data protection services available today (and their starting prices) include:
- IDWatchdog ($14/95/mo).
- EverSafe ($7.49/mo).
- ADT Identity Theft Protection ($9.99/mo).
- CompleteID ($8.99/mo).