6 steps to erase your fingerprint and disappear from the internet

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Keep your home address, phone number, and anything you share on social media from being searchable online. (Photo: Getty)

Thanks to the Internet, almost any information that intrigues you is at your fingertips. Unfortunately, that includes a lot of your personally identifiable information, such as your home address, phone number, and anything you share on social media. Cumulatively, this information is called a “fingerprint” and is likely to be within everyone else’s reach as well.

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your privacy online, and My Privacy Junk Mail for ID Protection for AOL is a great tool to help. This software scans the entire internet for all traces of your name, address, phone number, salary and other identifying characteristics. Its ReputationDefender also provides 24/7 monitoring of your address, phone number and more on the web.

Try AOL’s My Privacy Junk Mail for ID Protection free for 30 days, then $9.99 a month*


Removing your fingerprint, or your online presence, is a process. But it’s doable. (Photo: Getty)

Here are the steps to follow to erase your fingerprint

1. Set your social media settings to private: “There’s no good reason for your personal information to be public on social media accounts,” says Beau Friedlander, cybersecurity expert and co-host of What the Hack with Adam Levin, a real-life cybercrime podcast. “Your data can be exploited in any number of identity-related crimes. Change your settings to show information about you to ‘close friends and family’. You can completely delete your account,” but keep in mind that the data already collected about you and sold to third parties won’t go away when you ‘leave the building,'” adds Friedlander. You can also consider limiting the amount of personal information you share in your social media bio to almost nothing.

2. Opt-out from online directories: “There are several online data brokers that provide what’s called open source intelligence, or OSINT, on anyone with any kind of public record,” Friedlander tells Yahoo Life. He’s referring to what are commonly referred to as “people search sites,” which are essentially the White Pages of the Internet. “Fortunately, you can fill out online forms to have your personal information unlisted by them. Going to the websites of the following companies: Acxiom, Epsilon, Oracle, Equifax Information Services, Experian, and CoreLogic and opting out of their services will help you keep your your information away from prying eyes. If you want to simplify the process, consider using a service like JustDeleteMe.com.”

Try AOL’s My Privacy Junk Mail for ID Protection free for 30 days, then $9.99 a month*


Make sure you cover all your bases and keep monitoring your online presence. (Photo: Getty)

3. Close your old accounts: “You may have forgotten everything [the social media sites] from bygone eras of the internet, but your data is still out there,” warns Friedlander. “Start by checking HaveIBeenPwned.com to see which of your old accounts have been compromised in data breaches.” If the site reports that your passwords ( and, as a result, your personal information) has been compromised, close them. Better yet, close them no matter what if you no longer use them.

4. Create multiple accounts: “Online services have made it easy to create online accounts quickly, easily and for free. Use that to your advantage,” says Friedlander. “Consider creating separate email addresses and accounts for online shopping, donating to political causes, and maintaining a private account for only your close contacts.”

5. Conduct personal privacy checks: “Think you’ve set your privacy as tight as possible? It might be a good idea to conduct personal privacy checkups from time to time,” notes Friedlander. “For example, many apps and services let you see when and where you’re signed in to your account. Whether you’ve been using a service for years or it’s your first day, privacy controls are a must. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the privacy features offered.”

6. Search the search engine for your name: See what happens when you look for yourself. If a third-party site features you, perhaps you attended a community event or provided a quote to a local reporter, you can always try to have your name and/or photo removed.

Try AOL’s My Privacy Junk Mail for ID Protection free for 30 days, then $9.99 a month*

*To avoid being charged the recurring subscription fee, simply cancel before the end of the free trial period.

Originally published

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