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Comprehensive Opt Out List for Marketing Databases

Major data breaches like the recent Epsilon Breach occur frequently, even if you don’t hear about all of them. With all the publicity surrounding this particular breach, people have been asking how to remove themselves from some of those marketing lists that are frequently compromised.

Opting our of marketing databases is one way to lower your risk of becoming a data breach victim.

So, how do I get out of marketing data bases?

Most databases allow you to opt out of having them share and sell your information, you just need to find out how.  Many sites make it tricky to get this done, but most sites that are selling or harvesting your information allow you to do so one way or another.

The Privacy Rights Clearing House lists 135 marketing data brokers who are selling your private information, and tells you whether or not they have opt-out policies. If they do, you have to go to the brokers’ websites and suppress your name yourself. Most of the sites have hard-to-find opt out pages, but you can generally track them down by visiting the Privacy Policy which frequently appears as a link in small print at the bottom of the home page.

Even if you opt out, unfortunately, most of these sites still retain your information in their databases, meaning that you are still at risk of a breach. But until we have stronger consumer rights governing our private and personal information, opting out is the best you can do.

 

How to Opt Out of Data Miners and Online Directories

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Whether you like it or not, your information is available publicly to everyone through online directories. Businesses and advertisers have the ability to easily find this information and then market their products to you. This means that you have never actually “opted-in” to receive these ads. Fortunately, there are ways for you to “opt-out” of widespread information sharing (see the list of more than 120 ways below).

The Top 4 Opt-Out Opportunities:

  1. www.OptOutPreScreen.com. Remove yourself from the marketing lists sold by the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. There is not cost for this list.
  2. www.DMAchoice.org. This puts you on a Do Not Mail list for the Direct Marketing Association. The cost is $1, but it is well worth the instant trip down in your mail.
  3. White Pages. That’s right, your old-fashioned printed phone directory is the source for most of the online contact info databases. Remove your directory listing (you will likely have to the phone company every month to have your info NOT shared – I know, it’s asinine) or otherwise opt out.
  4. www.Spokeo.com. To opt out, read this blog post about [intlink id=”1752″ type=”post”]removing your info from Spokeo[/intlink]. This is one of the more utilized sites by identity thieves, stalkers and scammers.

There is a slower and more tedious process of opting out of online directories (i.e., you have to visit every one. Some (Spokeo.com)  are more important than others (Whitepages.com) because of the information that they collect. Sites such as Spokeo.com can have as much information as your physical address and pictures of your home, while others may just house your phone number. These sites spend hours upon hours scouring public records such as marriage licenses, birth certificates, and real estate purchases for this type of information.

Since most online directories typically offer a way to opt out of their listings you would think they would make it easy. Not so. They tend to hide this option deep within the site, as they don’t actually want you to leave. Luckily, The Privacy Rights Clearing House has done most of the legwork in their Comprehensive Opt Out List. I suggest starting with a few main sites, 123people.com, spokeo.com, etc. and continuously adding to it over time. Opt out of one a week if you like, and eventually your data will be less exposed. Protecting your privacy and identity is a layering process. It is easy for people to get overwhelmed, especially when it comes to online directories.

John Sileo speaks on information control, identity theft prevention and data breach avoidance. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more, contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Spokeo Shows Your Home with Only a Name?

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True. Unless you have chosen to Opt Out (see below), a picture of your home is only one search away on Spokeo.com, even if I don’t have your address.

Check it out for yourself at www.spokeo.com. On most profiles, if Spokeo has your current address, they also have a picture of your home. It is the same as Google Street View, almost. The difference is that on Google Street View or Google Maps, you can’t easily look up someone’s address based on their name and find the corresponding picture of their home.

In other words, Spokeo aggregates your personal data in a more sophisticated way, ultimately giving users the ability to search on your name and peel back layers of your personal information. This has caused a recent web buzz on the subject and is pushing people to go on their site to remove information you don’t want to share with the world. A few months ago I posted a video about removing your information from Spokeo. Here are the steps.

  1. Visit www.Spokeo.com.
  2. Type in your name and click on the record that belongs to you (if it exists).
  3. Copy the URL in your web browser that points specifically to your record (you should see your name in the URL, something like this: http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=Smith%20Sample#Sample:1219812367)
  4. Go to the bottom right corner of Spokeo’s page and click on the link called Privacy (it’s in small, faded text). Alternatively, visit www.Spokeo.com/privacy.
  5. On this page, paste in the link you copied from your personal page and enter your email address (for verification purposes, supposedly) and the security code listed. This is a case where I would use a second email account (your designated junk-email account), not your main email to avoid the build up of possible spam emails that follow. It will then send you an email confirmation where you must click the URL to confirm removal.
  6. Voila! You’re information will, for the time being, no longer be included in their look up services.

Of course, this does not get rid of the original sources of data (they buy the information from your local White Pages, Government listings, probably from Google Street View), but it does make it considerably harder to aggregate all of this data in one place. Just as a word of caution – I opted out of their data base about 3 months ago when we posted the above video and now I’m back in the database. So, I am opting out again and monitoring very closely if they add me back in, at which point I will take the story to a major news organization and we will hold them accountable.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him regarding speaking opportunities directly on 800.258.8076.

Spokeo: Scary Bad & How to Opt Out

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I found out a way to get yourself off spokeo.com!

Go to the website and look yourself up, then click on your name… once you have done that copy the URL in your web browser. Now, go to the bottom of the page. In small faded blue text, click privacy (third from the left). At the bottom of this page, you will find an “Opt Out form” link. Select that and then paste the URL link you copied from the page you found yourself on and enter your email and the “I’m not a robot” box. This is a case where I would use a second email account (your designated junk-email account), not your main email to avoid the build up of possible spam emails that follow. It will then send you an email confirmation where you must click the URL to confirm removal.  Voila! You have been removed.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him regarding speaking opportunities directly on 800.258.8076.