Find Out Which People-Search Websites and Databases Have Your Personal Information
As most people know, using the Internet can be one of the fastest ways to find the information you need. Unfortunately, it can also be the fastest way for other people and businesses to find out information about you. With more than 200 data brokerage services and people-search websites and databases on the Internet, most people are amazed at how much of their personal information is exposed to potentially prying eyes.
Have you ever wondered how much of your personal information is readily available on the Internet? It might be time to find out and take action to protect your online privacy and Internet reputation.
Online personal information services
There are a number of different personal information services, people-search websites and databases online, each of which is designed to reveal a particular kind of information about you.
Online phone directories, which are frequently utilized by Internet users, are one of these services. These websites use the information available in public phone books as their primary source. There are also public-record search websites that specialize in compiling public data from municipal, state and federal government offices.
Data aggregator websites can compile an even more amazing array of information about you. These websites are designed to gather information from blogs, websites and social media profiles. Web tracker websites specialize in gathering and compiling information about the websites people visit and the activities they engage in while on those sites. These tracker websites sell the information they gather to third parties willing to pay to learn more about your Internet habits and behaviors.
Most people will find information about themselves in many of these online personal information service databases, even if they only infrequently use the Internet.
How is your information gathered?
People-search websites and databases gather their data in a number of different ways. All public information, whether it’s listed in the phone book or is available through government agencies, is fair game for these services. However, because of similarities in names, the information gathered isn’t always accurate. If you search your own name, you might find that information for a similar name has become associated with your own — even criminal records and other data that could potentially damage your online reputation. Given that people use this information to make decisions about you, it’s important to monitor and control it.
Data aggregator websites can contain even more erroneous information. Because they’re designed to cull information from social networking websites, blogs and the “deep Web,” there’s almost no limit to what these services may end up associating with your name.
How is your information used?
When your name and personal information have been recorded in these databases, this data can be used in a variety of ways. In some cases, people might simply use these websites to look up your phone number, just as they would in the regular phone book. However, potential employers, insurance companies, telemarketers, identity thieves, businesses or your next-door neighbor could also use this information. In fact, there’s nothing to stop stalkers or even criminals from accessing and using your data. Some of these services even sell your information to other businesses.
Using only the data available about you on the Internet, a person could find your house, age, phone number, or the names of your children, spouse and other relatives. If they’re using one of the data aggregator websites, they may also be able to discover information you have posted on social networking websites, blogs or other sites. In fact, many people are shocked to discover how easy it is to access information they had believed to be private.
Who has your information?
For most people, it’s not a question of “if” the information is available online, but who has it and how much is available. Performing a few online searches for your name can be a good place to start. Finding out which people-search websites and databases contain your data can be an important first step.
Controlling the flow of your information
After you have determined that your personal information is exposed on the Internet, you can take action to have it removed. However, taking on this task yourself can require a significant amount of time and energy. Some websites have an opt-out service you can use to request that your information be deleted. In other cases, you may need to write the people-search website a letter, requesting that your information be removed.