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How Much of Your Personal Information Is out There?

by Amanda Hicks

Find out by stalking yourself online.

By now, you’re probably aware of just how many times you have to give information like your name and email address out online. In our digital age, it’s almost expected. But what about the information about you online that you aren’t aware of? Here’s how to figure out, and then control, what’s out there:
  • Google yourself. Search your name in quotations with the city you live in, the school you attend, or the place you work. For example: “Jane Doe” “Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.” Write down what you find with each search and then continue to add terms to your name until you have a good idea of what is publicly available about you.
  • Remove pictures or posts that reveal too much information, especially anything that may answer a security question on one of your accounts. Another good way around this is to use false answers to security questions — that way, no one can use your place of birth or your dog’s name to steal your identity.
  • Deactivate or hide old social media sites that are no longer in use. If you don’t use them, you don’t need your information stored on that site!
  • Check and recheck your social media privacy settings. While Twitter offers a handy do-it-yourself guide, social media sites like Facebook need to be rechecked often, as they change their settings frequently.
  • Cleansing your information is not a one-and-done situation. The process must be repeated often to ensure that new information has not surfaced. Set a reminder for yourself to perform this task at least once a year.
While all of this does help and is recommended, understand that there are ways for people to still find the information you have deleted. Due to things like Google Cache and the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, it's possible to still view these past pages and information.
By keeping an active security conscience moving forward, you can help control the amount of publicly available personal information.
Information repurposed from this article.
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