Has your personal data ended up in the hands of data brokers? What can you do about it?

Have you got a feeling that your personal data has ended up in the hands of data brokers? Are you frequently being contacted by people who have gotten hold of your telephone number or email address somewhere? Is personal information like your name, email address, phone number, and social security number spreading on the Internet? What can you do about it?

Have you ever suffered from something without knowing what might be causing it? A common symptom might be a headache, but it isn’t necessarily obvious what might be causing it.

Maybe you are receiving lots of emails or maybe phone calls from people that seem to know your name, phone number, email address, and maybe even your social security number or other information. Have you got a feeling that people might be abusing your credentials without your consent? You see the symptoms, but what is actually causing the problems?

It might be that your personal data has gone astray. Your information might be in the hands of data brokers that sell the information for profit.

data broker

Can you remove your information from the databases of different data brokers?

Can you imagine having your name in the databases of so-called data brokers? It sounds scary, doesn’t it? Not only does it sound scary, but it sounds impossible to solve the problem. The truth is, however, that it might be easier to solve the problem than you think.

I recently learned more about a service named Incogni. This is a product created by Surfshark, one of the most famous and popular VPN providers on the market. In other words, this is a company you can trust, making it easier to entrust them with further tasks. But, what is Incogni? What can this service do for you?

Incogni is a company that is specialized in helping you if your name and data is in the hands of different data brokers. It might sound like a nightmare finding the names of different data brokers and contacting all of them to have your personal information removed from their databases. To make it easier, Incogni has already gathered information about more than 130 data brokers. As a result, you don’t have to look them up yourself as this job has already been done.

When you register an account with Incogni you have to give them your name, email address, and your phone number. Furthermore, you will have to sign a “Power of Attorney”, which means that you allow Incogni to operate on your behalf towards the data brokers. What is the end result?

How can Incogni help you remove your name from the databases of data brokers?

Once again, as you visit the Incogni website you create a new user account. After this, you will have to share your address and your telephone number, and later sign a “Power of Attorney”, allowing Incogni to act on your behalf towards the data brokers.

As you have paid for your subscription, they will immediately contact the data brokers and demand them to remove your name and information from their databases (if it is registered there). This process takes place automatically, and you can follow the process in your dashboard on the platform.

It might take anything from a few hours until 30-40 days before the process has been completed and the process has taken place with every data broker in the Incogni register. When the process is complete, you will hopefully feel better, and your name has been removed from the lists owned by data brokers.

incogni protection against data brokers

This is what the dashboard of the platform looked like a few days after the initial scan was initiated.

incogni review

Why do I need to sign a “Power of Attorney?”

This is a legal agreement in which you allow Incogni to act on your behalf. This is very similar to an authorization that you would give to allow someone to pick up a package in your name at the postal office. Only in this matter, you give them the authorization to act on your behalf in communicating with the data brokers.

How does my information end up in the databases of data brokers?

Have you ever asked yourself why Facebook is free? Because your data is valuable. You can use the platform without paying, but you pay by giving them lots of information about yourself. This information is then used by Facebook to hit you with targeted ads.

The big data broking companies work hard to gather as much information about you as possible. They buy information from third-party sites, they get hold of information from data breaches, and they take advantage of information stored about you through cookies on websites. In addition, they also surf the web and social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and many others. All this information will create a big file with information about you, and it might even contain information such as:

  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Gender
  • Income range
  • Occupation
  • Children
  • Interests
  • Web browsing history
  • Shopping history
  • Education
  • Health status

What can a data broker do with this information? Why do they gather it in the first place? Because it is an asset worth a lot of money. And thus, the data brokers sell your information to companies and industries that believe that you might match their interests.

Is there any guarantee that the data brokers will actually remove your name from their lists?

There is no 100% guarantee that this will happen. But, with the present rules concerning personal data, the general data broker will take a removal request seriously and remove your name from their lists as a removal request has been received.

You should, however, be aware of the fact that a name removed from a data broker list might get back onto a similar list later. That is why many people decide to keep their Incogni subscription running continuously, as it will make sure that there is constant work being done to keep you off such lists.

You now know more about what Incogni can do for you and how they can have your name removed from the lists of all sorts of data brokers. But, what can you do to make sure your name doesn’t end up in the hands of data brokers in the first place?

How to make sure my name doesn’t end up on a data broker list in the first place?

Are you reading this article simply to learn more about how data brokers operate, how they gather their information, and what they do with it? What can you do to protect yourself and your information from data brokers in the future? Here I will share some tips and tricks that will make it much harder for data brokers to get hold of your data.

  • Keep your Facebook profile visible only to friends and family.
  • Do not share information about yourself on social media profiles like Twitter and Instagram.
  • Don’t take part in quizzes and questionnaires online, even though they promise you some sort of reward.
  • Be skeptical of free products, sites, and services. If it’s free, you are paying with your data.
  • Do not download programs, apps, and extensions that you do not trust. Such apps will often spy on your activities, handing over even more information to data brokers (including lots of information that might be extremely confidential).
  • Do not register on websites that you do not trust. Do not give away personal information like your name, address, telephone number, and similar data unless you really need to.

These are some pieces of advice that will help you keep your data safe and protected online.

I hope you have found this article useful and interesting. If you have any further comments or questions about data brokers, having your data removed from the lists of data brokers, or maybe a personal experience, or some useful insight on the topic, write your thoughts in the comment field below.

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