Did you know that in many cases, anyone can do a simple web search of your name, license plate, or vehicle identification number (VIN), and find your phone number, home address, family member names, and other personal information—for free? Most people are either oblivious to this, or they know but simply don’t care. However, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information. The five smartphone apps described in this article are a way to secure your data.
With every digital purchase you make or online account you create, your personal information is being gathered and shared—often sold—and your personal information will soon be on countless websites for any identity thief, ex-lover, stalker, or any random person who might be curious about who you are and where you live. The threat doesn’t always begin online. For an extreme example, a police officer parks his vehicle in his driveway after his shift ends. If the car is registered under his name, a threat could walk by and gather the license plate number or VIN to search online for the officer’s name, family member names, and phone number—putting them all at risk in multiple ways.
So, what can you do to prevent this? Going completely off the digital grid is not a quick or cheap process, but it can be done with some effort through using aliases and trusts. The first basic step is to stop willingly putting your information out there. This can be by changing your social media and online shopping habits, among other ways. Assuming your personal information is already out there, there are manual steps and third-parties to ensure that it is removed from public space. After having your information removed, to keep it from getting back out there you should begin using aliases, disinformation, and anonymous purchases—all through legal methods.
Some will say “I have nothing to hide” as if to say they have done nothing wrong. While that may be true in a sense, those people also surely appreciate a right to personal security and privacy. As illustrated in The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference, if you truly have nothing to hide would you send me the username and password to your email account? The point being, just because you “don’t have anything to hide” doesn’t mean you should needlessly have your personal information shared for public access and put yourself at risk.