Protect Your Personal Information
Jackie here. We talk a great deal about protecting our personal information, but even with safe sharing practices, information is out there. With so much information posted online and in public records that are easily accessed, some information you can’t keep secret. There are even companies, called data brokers, that have created files on almost everyone and will share this information with others for a small fee. What can you do?
I recently read an article on AARP that talked about these information-packed files. The author ordered a report on himself (it cost just $33) that revealed information like past employers, places he’d lived, birth date, relatives, and more, all the information a scammer might need to trick him into a falling for a scam or to commit ID theft. These websites are perfectly legal, both to run and to use, and there is little you can do to keep your information off of them.
Since personal information is the key to identity theft, these websites are a bit disturbing, especially to those that value privacy. Here are some tips for protecting yourself in a world where personal information isn’t so personal.
Opt-Out When You Can– Some of these companies allow opt-outs, but know the process can be tricky and some companies charge a fee. You’ll find detailed information about some of the available opt-outs here.
Lock Down Social Media– Some of the information on data brokering sites may be gathered from public information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you haven’t done so already, double check those privacy settings today.
Be Scam Smart– Scammers are tricky, and when armed with personal information may be able to make a convincing case. Be extremely cautious when you’re contacted out of the blue with offers, prizes, etc. It is very easy to hang up and call a company back using a known number.
Choose Security Questions Wisely– Many of these files have information like the name of your former high school or elementary school. When choosing the answers to security questions, keep these files in mind. Some people like to use obscure answers they will remember, but that might not be technically correct. You can answer your security questions however you choose, so try to make them as secure as possible.