Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Your Life is an Open Book - Opt Out

advice from Violet Blue...
So-called “people search” sites like PeopleFinders, WhitePages and many more all buy, sell and trade your private information for profit. Few people are happy to know how any stranger - or marketing company - can obtain their home address for a few dollars, and that it’s challenging to stop.

But not impossible.

As we learned in How To Remove Yourself from People Search Websites, “peoplefinder” sites are giant databases that make money by selling your profile to anyone with a credit card. See also: our gallery: How people search sites get your information - and what you can do about it...

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

There isn’t much we can do to stop people finder sites from getting public record information about us and making a profit off of it. Opting out of people finder sites will get your private life off the public market.

After you opt-out, there are a number of things you can do to prevent your info from being re-populated to people search sites:
• Only give out your information when you have to. If it’s optional, don’t do it. Facebook continually prompts me to give them my phone number for “better security” but I’m not falling for it.
• Look at your privacy settings on all your social networks; change them or lock them down if you can.
• When you do have to give info out for a profile or signup, consider giving the minimum of information, and be strategic about whether or not you give them your actual information. Only give them what’s absolutely necessary for site membership.
• Be wary of sites that make you register to use them. They’re not “free” to use if you give them something of yours they can - and will - sell.
• Don’t make it easy for sites to make an accurate profile about you, and know that your email address is in the hands of anyone you give it to. Use an alias or a pseudonym, and consider using an anonymous email that forwards to your real inbox to avoid getting spammed.
• Think twice before putting content on sites that want you to make a profile, like dating sites.
• Know that your likes, check-ins and and +1’s are public - not just public, but also profitable for the companies that made the buttons. Think twice about “liking,” “digging,” “upvoting,” and especially “checking in” using Foursquare and other location-based check-in services.
• Do what you can to block online tracking; it won’t hurt to use browser add-ons that block targeted advertising cookies and trackers.
• When you see a people search site being deceptive or feel you’ve been tricked by them, use this form to report them to the Federal Trade Commission. (more)