Erased: 7 Ways to Get Your Private Info Offline

For career-oriented professionals, the Internet can be a useful tool. It can help you find a job, research professional development opportunities and communicate with colleagues. However, when too much of your private information appears online, the Internet can also be problematic. If information on the Internet is becoming a problem for you, consider the seven tips below.

1. Regularly search for yourself online.

To get an idea of the type of personal information others can find about you online, search for your own name on a regular basis. If you find information that you’d rather keep private, determine its source and take action to remove it.

2. Reduce your exposure to spam.

Spam is always annoying, but it can also be dangerous. Some spam emails include malicious software capable of stealing your personal information, according to the Federal Trade Commission. To prevent this from happening to you, choose an email provider with a strong spam filter, and never open an email from a sender you don’t recognize.

3. Safeguard your personal information online.

When browsing the Internet or shopping online, plenty of websites will ask for your personal information, such as your phone number or email address. Some websites that ask for your personal information intend to exploit it. While it’s acceptable to provide this information under certain circumstances, you should always verify the recipient before doing so. Never give your information to anyone unless you initiated the contact and are positive of the recipient’s identity.

4. Remove personal information you don’t want others to see.

If you find sensitive information about yourself online through searching or other methods, remove it immediately. In fact, if you need a little help to wipe your slate clean, companies like Reputation.com exist to protect and improve individuals’ and businesses’ online reputations by creating, optimizing and monitoring the personal information that appears online.

5. Encrypt your private information.

When information is transferred via the Internet, it may or may not be encrypted. When data is encrypted, malicious parties can’t intercept it. To ensure that your data is always encrypted, look for a “lock” icon on your internet browser’s status bar before sending any financial or personal information. If you don’t see this icon, don’t proceed with the transfer.

6. Don’t overshare on social media.

Social media websites can be useful for keeping up with friends, family and even colleagues. However, if you share too much of your private information, identity thieves may be able to use it against you. To protect yourself from identity theft, minimize the sensitive information that you post online, and select the highest privacy settings your social media profiles offer. If you don’t need social media profiles for communication or enjoyment, delete them altogether.

7. Invest in virus protection.

Even with the best protective tactics, malicious software may make its way onto your computer. For this reason, it’s important to check your computer regularly for viruses, malware and spyware. Choose a reputable virus protection program, scan the computer at least once each week and delete any malicious software the program finds.

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