Watching Your Wallet: How to safeguard your online information

Several methods available to remove sensitive data
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:01 PM EDT
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InvestigateTV - Protecting personal information is critical in the digital age, but according to experts, a simple web search of your name will likely return your age, date of birth or even home address.

Last year the Federal Trade Commission received almost 1.4 million reports of identity theft.

Mark Kapczynski, with One Rep, an online privacy company, said there are currently upwards of 150 to 200 people search websites where sensitive information is availble.

“That they can just buy this data from big companies and then just park it out on their websites so that Google can index it and show it up,” Kapczynski said. “It’s just remarkable because this is not a problem in any other country but the United States.”

He said these privacy-breaching sites do follow the law and have a feature where you can have your information removed by opting out, but it’s a time-consuming and usually temporary process.

“These people search websites are so bad that even if you remove your information through their opt out process, two to three months later, your data comes back in,” Kapczynski said.

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), which would, in part, address security of personal data, was introduced in the Senate last fall but has yet to move forward.

In the meantime, services like One Rep can help you find and remove your personal data. It costs about $100 per year but does offer a free scan. Other companies, like Norton or Reputation Defender, provide a similar service.

There’s also a new feature where you can ask Google to remove your personal information from its search results. Google will ask for examples of websites where your personal data appears and will review them, however asking Google to do this doesn’t guarantee the company will remove the information.