January 29, 2023

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing very personal and identifiable private details about my family online. Despite my best efforts to remove myself from the internet, private information occasionally pops up, such as my home address or photos that I’m sure are private.

Hoping to grab your personal details from the internet

With so much data we share on social media and across the internet, it’s not hard to imagine how much personal data about you is available for others to find. Far scarier and less imaginable, though, is someone showing up at your residence or workplace after Googling your first and last name to find the exact address.

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How to keep yourself off the internet

While it’s nearly impossible to sanitize all your data online, it’s important to understand what information about you is available, and then figure out a manageable strategy to keep the most impactful information offline and prevent future leaks.

The main perpetrators of leaking your personal information online are data broker sites, aka “People Search,” which allow you to enter anyone’s name, usually for a few dollars, and receive their contact information, such as a phone number and address; age; date of birth, employment history, etc. WebFX reports that there are More than 4,000 data broker sites collect data on more than 500 million consumers.

Acxiom, one of the largest data brokers, says it collects 3,000 data points for every American and makes money selling products to the highest bidder.

The amount of personal and private information that is collected and sold about us can make you feel like giving up before you even start. Controlling the erasure of personal details in your life not only affects your privacy, but is critical to your security. Here are strategic ways to effectively and efficiently reduce the amount of information about you that is collected and sold around the world.

How much of your private information has been leaked?

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#1 Google itself

When was the last time you tried to search yourself? Before you launch a campaign to reach all the data broker sites, put on your own private investigator hat and check which sites have your online information.

How easy it is to get started. Log out of your own Google account, then search for yourself by searching for your first and last name on google.com. This is the most accurate way to see how the average user is finding information about you through Google. It’s arguably the largest search engine online and the most likely source most snoopers use to gather information about you.

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#2 Make yourself unsearchable

There have been numerous privacy breaches from corporate data collection and hackers. Leaving unnecessary personal details online creates the risk of random strangers or potentially dangerous people coming to your door. All it takes is gathering information found on Google and other search engines to make you a target.

Google and other search engines are constantly collecting and aggregating information about you. If you have publicly accessible social media or a website, there is no way to completely prevent your name from appearing in search results. However, these are some key ways to make your information less likely to come up when searching for your name.


How to Change Search Engine Settings for More Privacy

Let’s focus on some simple steps on Google, since it is the largest and most used search engine online.

  • Sign in to your Google account on desktop
  • In the upper right corner of the page, there should be a dial pad icon
  • Click the icon for the drop-down menu
  • click Account icon
  • click ‘Data and Privacy in left menu

A photo illustrating the selection of Data and Privacy on Google.
(Fox News)

  • On the Data & Privacy page, scroll down to “Historical Settings” options
Data and privacy screens on Google.

Data and privacy screens on Google.
(Fox News)

  • Under History Settings, click theWeb & App Events’
History settings page on Google with instructions on how to personalize web and app activity and YouTube history.

History settings page on Google with instructions on how to personalize web and app activity and YouTube history.
(Fox News)

  • under ‘Activity Control’, click ‘turn off’ So it stops collecting information from your Google services and websites. Or, if you prefer to keep it turned on, you can “turn on” the auto-delete feature so that it deletes the information on a regular basis. You can repeat these steps for “YouTube History”.
Google settings allow you to "automatically delete" Information it collects on a regular basis.

Google settings allow you to “auto-delete” information it periodically collects.
(Fox News)

How much of your private information has been leaked?

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#3 Invest in a Moving Service (Best Outcome)

In addition to the plethora of data brokerage sites stealing your data, the unfortunate fact is that many of these sites continue to collect information about you from public records and online usage, even after you have previously deleted your data. It never stops.

Although you can go to each site and manually request deletion of your information, You’ll be doing it non-stop. Unfortunately, there is little regulation when it comes to data brokering. Just because you delete your data from the web doesn’t mean data brokers will suddenly stop reselling it a few months later.

While no service promises to delete all of your data from the Internet, these top services are great if you want to continuously monitor and automate the process of removing information from hundreds of sites over an extended period of time.

Everything I didn’t want to see about myself disappeared the first time I tried it. A few months later, it was pouring into Google’s crevices again. That’s when I learned that subscribing to a deletion service that constantly searches and deletes private data is the most efficient way to go.

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best choice: a representative

OneRep is my favorite. It has a very clean interface, and you’d be surprised how much of your private information is discovered and eventually deleted. OneRep offers monthly and annual plans for the deletion of personal information. At the time of publication, OneRep scanned 191 websites.

OneRep started with $8.33 per month for one person in their monthly plan, or $15 per month for your family (up to 6 people) in their monthly plans. Unlike the services mentioned below (DeleteMe or Kanary), OneRep offers a 5-day free trial.

brand yourself

Starting at $49.99 per month (billed $299.99 per year), BrandYourself will remove your exposed information from over 35 websites. While this company is more expensive than others, they offer an a la carte feature to find out if your sensitive information is on the dark web ($14.99 per year), improve Google search results to control what people find when they Google you ( $44.99)/year) and helps you clean up your social media profiles by finding and removing any flagged posts and images that might be wasting your opportunity ($14.99/year).

delete me

Starting at $10.75 per month ($129 billed annually), the Standard plan for one year includes removing your information from more than 30 data broker sites. The annual service scans and removes personal information from the website every three months, in addition to receiving a detailed report within seven days of signing up. If you discover on a data broker website that your information is not included in your service, you may submit a deletion request. delete me Will investigate whether it is possible to delete your data from the site. DeleteMe is similar to OneRep, but its annual plan is more expensive.

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Kurt “Cyberman” Knutson is an award-winning technology reporter with a passion for technology, devices and gadgets that make life better through his contributions to Fox News and FOX Business on “FOX & Friends” mornings. Have a technical question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy newsletter, share your voice, story ideas or leave a comment on CyberGuy.com.

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