Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What I Know About You

What is the catch-all solution to all things we want to know?  "Google It," right?  With the amount of information on the Internet these days, it should be no surprise to you that your personal information is lurking out there as well.  But how much is too much?  With only your name and city, I now know things like your address, age, income, your household members, your political interests, and much more.  It's all available to the public, but you can take steps to make it more difficult to find at least some of your information.

Image adapted from sketch3 by cncpt
  1. Start by visiting one of the more prominent and accurate aggregation sites,, and search for your name and city.  Don't be shocked if there is a ton of information about you. 
  2. Once you find yourself, copy the URL of the page you are on. This is your profile URL. 
  3. Then, go to the very bottom of the page and click on "Privacy."  It may be small and hard to find, but it is down there.  
  4. Follow the directions to remove your profile (if you wish to do so).  
  5. Be sure to search different variations of your name and cities you've lived in.  You may have more than one profile.

Now for the bad news: This is not the only aggregation site out there.  They pop up from time to time because the information they are gathering is public in one form or another, and people pay good money for information. If you are truly concerned by so much of your information being available online, I recommend you set up alerts for your name, email address, and mailing address, as well as anything else you want to keep an eye out for on the net.  Any time Google sees a site with that information, it will notify you.

If you find this useful, be sure to share it with others, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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