This content was produced in partnership with Incogni.
You and I both have probably sent out 500+ job applications over the course of our lives. Sending out addresses, birthdays, emails, and phone numbers to countless companies that may or may not be legit. That may or may not get data breaches. We’ve signed up for credit cards, car loans, bank accounts, and websites with some permutations of the same data. If you’re a fellow Android user, you know that we also get the monthly pleasure of having Google send us a report on everywhere we’ve been in the preceding month.
It’s enough to make me think, “Hey, somewhere they’ve got a file on me.”
As it turns out, it isn’t just one file. It’s a lot of them and not all where we’d like them to be. That’s why Incogni is here. It’s an online resource to help us take back over our data. To help us reclaim our own identities!
So who has our information? Data brokers. They’re defined by Incogni as follows:
“Data brokers collect, analyze, and sell your personal information to third parties or use it themselves for profit. Often without your informed consent.” – Incogni
These groups collect, use, and/or sell information they get from simple websites, online services, and public records. On each website you visit, you accept privacy policies — often without reading them in full — and in most cases you’re giving consent to the administrators to share your data with third parties. Free websites, e-commerce shops, even media sites, collect your data and generally share it with data brokers. And while we tend to think of our information as being segmented — people X just have info Y, people R just have info S — the fact of the matter is that these data brokers form connections and trade info to make stronger data sets that can both destroy our privacy and manipulate our buying patterns.
The worst part is, these data brokers are airing our dirty laundry out to the world but aren’t exactly coming clean and saying they are. Like, I can see the end results of what they’re doing from time to time, but I’m also never really sure who is behind it.
At this point, I know I’d like to take more control over my data. If only to show all of those companies that didn’t lend me a job offer that I can do something right. But what am I to do? Email each of them and ask them to delete my data? It turns out that I’m not fully sure what to do and you probably aren’t either.
You can start taking some of your power over your identity back right now by checking out the handy DIY guides at Incogni that’ll guide you through the process of getting your information off of sites like Arrests.org, Ancestry, and Spokeo. But removing our data from these sites can take several minutes EACH. Our 500+ job apps didn’t happen over the course of a day, they happened over the course of years.
One of the more insidious proponents of personal data, particularly when it comes to airing our dirty laundry, are people search sites. They collect a wealth of information from public records, like household members, financial details, current and previous addresses, your marital status, education, employment history, and much more. Even criminal records and civil records involving financial events, like bankruptcies, liens, and judgments, are gathered on these search sites for anyone to view. Incogni actually helps remove this personal data, which currently reaches about 66 people search sites — and continues to grow.
I’m so sick of forms and ‘accept this’ and confirmation emails and all of the other stuff that goes with web info. Surely there is something we can do now that is a bit more comprehensive?
As individuals, we’re basically powerless over reclaiming our data in this manner. In a weird sort of way the data about us is larger than we are as people.
Grouped up we can do so much better.
The team at Incogni takes care of all of the data deletion requests for us and monitors changes so that we know our unwanted presence from the web and backroom data brokers is slowly going down. Some data brokers actually have the audacity to reject our deletion requests. Incogni has seen that, too, and can lend a hand on the next steps that need to be taken to get our info out of untrustworthy hands.
One of the coolest things about signing up with Incogni is how it starts to tip the data collection power game in your favor. You get access to a dashboard that shows what data brokers Incogni is working with. Within the first week of signing up, the dashboard data starts to show our stats being removed from the web, one data broker at a time. In other words, when we work with Incogni it is we that become the data brokers over the most important stats in our life again.
To get yourself in command of your data again and delete your presence from 180+ data brokers and counting, consider trying Incogni with the button below. Again, they also have a ton of guides so we can do a bit of the work on our own, so go ahead and poke around and see what feels right to you.