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Internet safety: Your personal info is online. Here’s how to remove it

Internet safety: Your personal info is online. Here's how to remove it
Written by publisher team

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — If you’ve never searched your name online, try it. You might be surprised to see just how much of your personal information pops up.

It’s creepy and potentially dangerous, but it’s also legal for websites to collect your information from public records.

The good news is there are some ways to try to regain control and get some of that info removed.

Consumer Reports talked to Konstantinos Sofos, who was shocked after discovering how much of his personal information is on the world wide web.

“Wow. This is unreal! It’s a little scary and just unnerving to know that my whole life history is online,” said Sofos.

Sites like BeenVerified, FastPeopleSearch, and PeopleFinders are part of the vast data broker industry that collects information and then sells it for things like advertising.

Yael Grauer, Consumer Reports’ Tech Editor, investigates online data collection and privacy and says, “A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s tons of information about them online. These companies don’t tell you they’re up your information.”

And that has the potential to be risky. It can provide employers, online stalkers, or even identity thieves access to your personal information without your ever knowing it.

The info can include your current and former addresses, phone number and email, the names of your relatives and arrest records.

To regain control, check out some well-known data broker sites to see if there’s personal information you want removed. But be aware that some sites may require a copy of your license or ID to delete your data. Before sending any identification, cross out any excess info that might be on there, like your license number or Social Security number.

If you’d rather let someone else do the work, CR says sites like DeleteMe, Kanary or OneRep charge around $100 a year to remove your information from a number of sites.

CR says if you’re doing the work yourself, make a list of sites you’ve opted out of and check back periodically to make sure your info hasn’t reappeared.

And click here for more information and links to the major data broker sites you might want to check out.

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