Your privacy is being lost every day. Your personal information is being shared without your consent or knowledge. Companies are making big money by gathering information about you, and then selling, distributing and publishing that private data on the internet for the world to see. Welcome to the new age, where your right to privacy is being lost without a fight.
Despite the high risk for identity theft, internet scams, and real world crime resulting from information found about you on the internet, companies and websites continue to blast your public records and private data all over the internet. Sites such as 123People, MyLife, Intelius and countless others sell your information on a daily basis to any person or company with an internet connection and credit card. Violating your privacy has become big business!
Why Privacy Matters
Hardworking, honest citizens are not the only ones using the internet. Criminals love the internet because it offers anonymity, and crimes can be hard to trace and detect. Law enforcement and private investigators agree, the less information found about you on the internet, the safer you are. The more information you have online, the more at risk you are for online and real world crime. If a criminal can find your photo, your full name, date of birth and address online, you are great target for a wide range of crime. Google Maps can even show criminals what your home looks like, and how to get there. The companies publishing your private information and public records know how valuable your privacy is. It’s time to fight back, fight for your right to privacy!
20 Steps to Protect Your Privacy
1. Share less online
The more you share online, the more you give your privacy away. Remember that what you share online may end up in the wrong hands. If you post something on the internet and later decide you want to remove it, know that it may not be possible. Think twice before sharing.
2. Use social networks responsibly
Are your 1000 “friends” on Facebook truly trustworthy? Do you even know them all? What about the 5000 people reading your tweets on Twitter? Review your contact list and ask yourself if it’s truly a good idea to be sharing information with everyone in your social circle.
3. Never post personal data
Never post your date of birth or address or vacation schedule on the internet for others to see. Criminals love to get this information, and take advantage of those who share it.
4. Check your browser settings
Check your privacy settings on your internet browser such as IE and Firefox. Disable or delete your cookies on a weekly basis to keep websites from learning more about you.
5. Adjust your privacy settings
Check your privacy settings on your social networking accounts such as Facebook, and be sure your information is only visible to trusted friends - and not visible to the entire world.
6. Use two email addresses
Keep your primary email address for your friends and family. Create a second email address to use when online shopping and giving out to people and companies you don’t know.
7. Put a password on it
Make sure you change your passwords at least once a year, and password protect your smart phones and computers so you’re the only person who can access your info.
8. Cash and carry
When possible, leave no paper trail. Pay in cash and be on your way when you can.
9. Clear your browser history
Once a week, clear your browser history on IE or Firefox, so websites can’t track your history.
10. Consider browsing anonymously
Take a look at Easy Hide IP or similar software to surf the web with an anonymous IP address.
11. Install anti-virus software
Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer, such as AVG or similar.
12. Get a PO Box
Consider a PO box near your home to create public records at that address rather than at your home. This can keep you and your family safe, and stop nearly all of your junk mail!
13. Just say “no”
When companies or government agencies ask for your social security or address or email address, say you’re not comfortable sharing the information. If needed, provide false info.
14. Buy a shredder
Criminals still love to read your trash. Buy a shredder so sensitive documents like credit card and tax statements stay out of the hands of potential criminals. If you don’t have the money for a shredder, you can also consider burning your papers with sensitive information.
15. Keep your phone number private
Register your number on no call registries such as DoNotCall.gov to avoid solicitors. Contact your phone service provider and tell them you want your number private.
16. Let them all know
Contact all companies and accounts, such as credit cards and banks, and let them know you want to protect your privacy, and be sure they do not share or sell your information.
17. Look for privacy seals
18. Consider a company like Reputation.com
Some companies are helping consumers fight back and keep their information private. These websites can be helpful in removing some of your data online, and prevent future leaks
19. Set a Google Alert for your name
Set up a Google alert on your name, to email you when anything new surfaces online.
20. Fight back, raise hell
For those companies and websites that choose to violate your privacy, and post your personal data and public records on the internet for sale to others, fight back! Call and email the company and website and tell them you do not approve, and you do not authorize them to share, sell or distribute your information. Let them know you are serious and if necessary, consult your attorney on options on how to force the website to cease and desist, if they continue to violate your privacy. If you're persistent, most sites will agree to take down your information.
You can also view the how to protect your privacy video on Youtube.
Best of luck,
© 2012 A Hathaway