6 Steps You Can Take Today to Delete Your Personal Information from the Internet
Keeping your personal information on the internet comes with risks. Online bullying, scams, and even identity theft have all become common with more and more personal data accumulating online. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, scams have cost Americans nearly $8.8 billion in 2022, 30% more than the previous year.
Deleting your personal information from the internet reduces your chances of falling victim to these dangers. However, working out where to begin the process can be challenging. We’ll review each step you should take to clean up your digital footprint.
Personal Information Definition
Before we get to the removal steps, it’s essential to identify what is considered personal information. While different laws and regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provide slightly varied definitions of the term, personal information, or personal data, is any information that could identify or be linked to an individual.
This includes but isn’t limited to, information such as:
- Phone number
- Social Security number
- Date of Birth
- Financial information
- Medical records
- Employment history
- Education history
- Criminal records
- Race or ethnicity
- Political affiliation
- Sexual orientation
- Religious beliefs.
How To Delete Your Personal Information From the Internet
Let’s take a look at the following six effective steps:
1. Browse The Web In Private
Start by taking advantage of the private browsing option on your preferred browser and investing in a dependable VPN service. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, rendering your data invisible to potential eavesdroppers and, as a result, making it more challenging for third parties to collect your personal information.
2. Delete Unused Online Accounts
Eliminate old email accounts, social media profiles, blogs, and e-commerce accounts. Even if you don’t use them, they may still collect and share your personal information.
3. Remove Your Personal Information From Google And Google Search Results
You can remove your information from Google through the activity controls page. It allows you to manage the data that Google collects from you and delete any information they have stored. If you want to remove any information that shows up in search results, you can also reach out to website owners or Google directly.
4. Delete Unnecessary Apps
Apps collect a ton of data. They also share a ton of data with third parties. We recommend uninstalling any apps you don’t strictly need.
5. Optimize Your Privacy Settings
The privacy settings on your devices and accounts are vital for protecting your personal information. If nothing else, adjust the settings for location sharing, third-party sharing, activity tracking, and personalized ads.
6. Remove Your Data From Data Broker And People Search Sites
Data brokers and people search sites do business off of collecting and selling your personal information. Find out which companies have your data by googling your name and active data brokers in your area. Then send individual opt-out requests to remove your data from these search sites.
You can also use data removal services like Incogni to automate this process.
How Your Personal Information Ends Up On The Web
Your personal information can wind up on the internet in many ways. Often, you’re the one who does it. This can be through your social media profiles, blog posts, and online shopping accounts.
You also leave a trail of information each time you use the internet. Whether you download an app or google something, companies collect your personal data regularly.
Keeping Your Personal Information Private
Once you remove the bulk of your personal information from the internet, your next step is to keep any remnants of old records and new data from circulating the web. Data brokers and people search sites scrape the internet for your personal information and likely have copies of any data you removed.
Use an automated personal information removal service like Incogni to clean up these records and keep new ones from popping up to replace them. With the yearly subscription, Incogni offers at a 50% discount ($6.49/mo) for the Scam Detector readers – you can get it HERE. They will automatically identify which data brokers have your personal information, send removal requests, appeal any rejected requests, and conduct repeated removals to keep your data off the market. Click the button below if interested.
How To Report an Online Scammer
Let your family and friends know about how to delete their personal information from the Intenet. Feel free to share this page if it was helpful. Meanwhile, you can report scammers and any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the portal below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be amongst the first to receive notifications about the most notorious scams every week, subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You will receive periodic emails from us with insightful tips. That will include how to prevent fraud and information about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.
Meanwhile, feel free to educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles. They are listed under this paragraph, so that you know more about online security. Last but not least, if you have any bad experiences, make sure to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.
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