How To Prevent Your Idenity From Being Stolen

According the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the fastest growing crime. Experts in the industry estimated that over 10 million people become victims of identity theft every year.

Believe it or not, keeping your information private on the web is your responsibility. There are certain steps you can take to protect your identity and personal information. One step is to make sure that the site you are submitting your personal information to (credit card, name, address, etc.) is a trusted and secure website. Here a few items you can use to confirm the validity of the site.
  • Make sure that the website you are submitting information on uses a secure socket layer (SSL).
  • Confirm the site is in good standings with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Overall appearance. Most un-trusted websites will not invest in a well designed, user-friendly appearance.
Using these few tips will help protect you against submitting your personal information to websites owned by the would-be theives. However, you also need to remove your information from websites that have your data where you have NOT submitted any information. These type of websites are called data brokers. Data brokers gather all kinds of different information from public records and then sell the information to consumers for a fee. So, if a thief was looking for an individuals social security number all they would have to do is go to one of these data brokers enter your name and pay for a report that includes social security numbers.

How Do You Remove Your Information From Data Brokers

Getting your information removed from data brokers can be quite difficult. Since each data broker is its on entity they each have different instructions on how to get your information removed. Also, many of the data brokers do not want you to remove your information so they intentionally make it difficult to opt-out. There are some good resources on the internet that help with finding the list of data brokers with instructions on how a consumer can remove their information from each. One of these is at the National Cellular Directory called "Erase Yourself From The Web" located here. This service automatically removes your information from certain data brokers when possible. If not possible then an email will be sent with the instructions on how to get the data removed including links to the pages where your data exists.

Without services like Erase Yourself From The Web it can be very difficult to get your information removed from all of the data brokers on the internet. Help may be on the way as it appears that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is also getting involved in the data broker industry. Recently the FTC did a study on the data broker industry to find how they get and use consumer data including how the data brokers allow consumers to view their data and how they can opt out. Hopefully after this study they will come up with a framework that will standardize how consumers can opt out and remove their information. Identity theft is a very serious issue and is becoming increasingly more common. The good news is that there are many companies trying to combat identity theft and there are steps that you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen.
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