Did you know that your personal information could be making companies a lot of money? This might be okay if the company was your own and you willingly handed over your information to benefit yourself or others in some way. But the truth is, we’re handing our personal information over to big corporations every day, sometimes without any sort of consent, and they’re benefiting from it. It’s all in the name of marketing and bringing in revenue, without any regard to how you as the individual might feel about it; these companies tailor their internet ads to your specific interests or possible needs, based on the personal information they acquire.
This personal information is sometimes willingly handed over to them (for example, possibly because you didn’t read the Terms of Service agreement on a website before clicking “submit”), but other times, it’s simply acquired without any consent. When you visit a website, the site picks up on some specific details about you, mainly your location, but also any personal information your give them when you sign up for an account. There are some other ways that companies acquire your information as well, such as looking through public records Homeowners know this quite well: letters, calls, and sometimes even emails start flowing in after they purchase their home.
It’s not uncommon for this information to be sold off to different companies, as it can help them gain revenue and popularity by knowing how to get you interested in looking at their website and purchasing their products or services. They can also use it to figure out what types of things are popular amongst certain groups of people (for example, those who live in cities or those who live in the country).
Don’t fancy the idea of your information being sold and acquired without your consent? Neither do I, so I took the time to put together a list of a few ways you can put an end to the sale of your personal information.
Safe Shepherd is a subscription service that searches through the internet looking for your personal information. If they find anyone selling off your info, they’ll send the company an opt-out request to delete the record on your behalf. In the event that the company doesn’t allow Safe Shepherd to remove your information, you’ll be provided with instructions on how you can handle the issue yourself.
Safe Shepherd will also send you real-time alerts whenever they stumble across your personal information on the net. This is a great service to have on hand when you’re trying to prevent your information from being sold or even publicized. It can also help prevent identity theft.
Alternatively, you could use StopDataMining.me, which provides a list of opt-out links to companies that commonly collect and sell your data.
ExpressVPN is a Virtual Private Network subscription service that encrypts your internet connection, allowing you to anonymously use the internet. It hides your IP address, which is what gives websites information about your location. Without your location, they’re less likely to be able to figure out who you are or where you are.
So how can it hide your location? Well a VPN is a remote server that can be located pretty much anywhere on Earth. When you connect to the VPN, your internet traffic gets routed through it, which lets you surf the web without sharing your location details; the VPN’s IP address will be shown to sites instead of yours and this is how websites pick up on your location.
A VPN will also keep your personal information out of the hands of hackers who sometimes have intentions of publicizing your information online. Because of the encrypted connection of the VPN, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to hack into your devices. You can install ExpressVPN on your smartphone, tablet, and computer by the way.
ExpressVPN is recommended because it offers the best customer service, unlimited speed and bandwidth, the opportunity to simultaneously connect to the VPN on more than one device at a time, and no logging of your browsing activity. An added bonus is that you can receive a refund if you decide you don’t like it within the first 30 days.
Another service that can help you keep your personal information from being sold is Blur. Blur is an easy to use service that prevents websites from tracking you. You can also use it as a digital wallet or to store your passwords.
Of course this would mean that Blur gets your information, but that’s a bit better than leaving out in the open for numerous different companies to collect. One of the great things about Blur is that it generates passwords, email addresses, and even prepaid cards for you to use online. Whenever you make a payment through Blur, they pay on your behalf with a prepaid card, so companies won’t get your credit card information.
It works similarly with passwords and email addresses. You can decide on a one-time use password or email address when filling out online forms rather than using your personal information. Blur syncs across all of your devices too, so you can access your accounts from anywhere.
Best of all, Blur offers both a free and paid service, so you can enjoy the privacy whether you have cash on hand or not.
Read User License Agreements
Whenever you are using a service, program, app, or even a website, always read the user license agreements. Sometimes the agreements will state in plain terms that they are going to collect your data and use it for marketing purposes or elsewhere. It’s not uncommon to come across this information in Terms of Service agreements as well.
It’s not fun to read through all of these agreements, but it could prevent you from tossing your personal information into the hands of big corporations that are looking to make money off of you. Pay attention, because even very useful services could be used as a way to collect your data (Windows 10’s Cortana is one example).
The Fine Print
Stopping the sale of your personal information is not an easy job. Even those who don’t use the internet are at risk of having their information on display online. Public records are more accessible than ever before, given the endless amount of details the internet can hold.
If you utilize all the tips laid out in this article, your personal information should be less frequent on the net compared to the average person, though there is never a guarantee that everything about you will be private. Most of all, remember that you are often handing over your personal details yourself. Because of the increasing popularity of companies wanting to obtain and sell your information, it’s extremely important to read the fine print on anything you are clicking “accept” on.
Lastly, don’t forget that social media can be an easy place for anyone to obtain your information. It’s easy to forget that when you’re having a great time sharing photos or talking about your day on Facebook, but overall, the less you share personal details, the safer you’ll be.