There’s a saying that nothing can be removed from the Internet. Unfortunately, it’s hard to remove information from the Internet. It becomes more difficult the longer your data has been online. Some people believe there is no such thing as Internet privacy. But a little savvy goes a long way if someone has released your personal information online.
In the best-case scenario, your data is available in only one place. But this isn’t often the case. The longer your information is online, the more it can spread. Reaching out to the accounts or people who posted the information is your first step. If it was an accident, they might happily take it down. However, there is no guarantee that they’ll cooperate.
The next step is to contact the company that owns or hosts the site. For smaller sites such as blogs, contacting the host makes sense—contact support on larger sites. For example, you can get help from Tinder directly if your issue is with Tinder privacy.
The more places your data shows up online, the more you’ll have to repeat these steps. Asking may not work. However, you can find examples of DMCA Takedown Notices online. You can fill out this form and send it to the user or host that posted your copyrighted material.
Sometimes you have to call help. For legal issues, call a lawyer. Hire a company that specializes in removing your information from the Internet. They have contacts, cybersecurity tools, and tricks that you don’t. Sometimes, companies offer tools if your information becomes public because of a data breach that they failed to prevent.
Data breaches occur when information is accessed and released to untrusted sources. They typically involve a lot of data that belongs to multiple people.
Scammers don’t always have release data. Sometimes they want to use it. You need to limit the damage. Immediately change passwords that are compromised. Check if you can end other login sessions to boot hackers from your account. Disconnect hacked devices from the Internet before removing malicious software.
Contact the credit bureaus, your bank, and credit card companies when privacy invasions involve financial information. They can freeze accounts or cards and watch for future suspicious activity.
Sadly, you might not have thought about how to protect your identity online before you became a victim. It’s harder to protect yourself once your information is out there. But
- Sign up for Google Alerts to receive notifications when your information is published online.
- Use a password manager to create, store, and periodically change strong, unique passwords for your accounts.
- Set up a separate email account and phone number for account sign-ups. Could you not share them with anyone?
There’s no guarantee of privacy online, but these steps help.