If the “ISIS Hit List” was not a wake up call to get you to police up our personal information online, then I don’t know what is. If you were not tracking, some time ago, supposed ISIS Hackers said they breached military servers and came up with a hit list of U.S. Military Service members. What really happened was that they found the names of U.S. Service members online in news reports and on websites and combined it with publicly available personal information to come up with their “Hit List”. Unfortunately, some of the address and contact information may have been accurate which could have made people sweat the list even more than they should have, but we will never really know.
Have you ever thought about what someone could do if they had enough of your personal information?
In June, 2015 it was announced that the OPM Database was breached which means that the most intimate details of the lives of 18,000,000 people who had undergone a background check through the U.S. Government probably sits on someone’s desktop or is being traded on the internet as we speak. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about that as an individual, so we must focus on what we can control.
What we can control is the ease of access to our personal information that is already publicly available online through people search sites. I am referring to the information that someone right now can find out just by seeing your real name used on a social networking site like facebook, seeing the location you are posting from such as “Texas”, guessing your approximate age and searching for your personal information for free online in less than a minute. In just a few clicks, they can see your phone numbers, addresses, names of family members, criminal records and traffic tickets, and more. People search sites are really good at taking a lot of information from federal, state, county and local databases, along with other sources of personal information, and compiling it into an easy to use website.
Your personal information is worth something to someone. Publicly available personal information was probably worth something to whomever was putting together that “ISIS Hit List” and it is probably worth something to the person with ill intent researching home address information for someone that just shared on facebook that they are going to Disney for two weeks which means there cars and home are an easy target. Even marketers can use your personal information to help target you for advertisements for products or services, bill collectors can use information to track you down, disgruntled co-workers, former friends, and people you come into contact with during the course of duties in your job can quickly access your address, phone numbers, family members names and more for free with the click of a button.
If you don’t believe me, visit this site (RemoveYourInfo.com) and choose any of the people search sites listed. Follow the link to the site and do a people search. The information required for a search will vary by site, but you usually only need and a first and last name and a city and or state, to get started. You will be presented with a list of records for names that match the information you entered. If there is a link to the click to view more details, give it a shot since some sites offer the information for free.
What you will usually see through the people searches are:
- Current and former addresses
- Current and former phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Social networking accounts
- Bankruptcy information
- Home and land purchase information
- Criminal and traffic records
- Names of friends, associates and family members (usually with links to records with their information)
- In some cases, the average household salary for the home and maybe even employment information
- Some sites may list license information such as
- if the person holds a concealed carry license
- Boating, hunting, fishing license information
Can you see how the information could be useful to someone, how it could be abused and why you may want to limit access to the information? Well, it seems like the majority of the legitimate people search sites offer a way to remove, suppress or edit the information they share about you. RemoveYourInfo.com has a page here that will give you step by step directions on how to remove your information from more than 25 commonly used people search sites. It is not an easy process and it is going to take some time, but if you don’t protect your personal information, who else will.