9 Simple Ways to Stop Companies From Collecting & Selling Your Personal Information

9 Simple Ways to Stop Companies From Collecting & Selling Your Personal Information
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You may not be aware of this, but companies make a lot of money by collecting and selling your personal information. Your name, address, and phone number aren’t exactly secret, but once you give them to a company, they can take that information and sell it to other companies who create marketing campaigns based on the data they bought from the first company. This can make it hard for you to understand how your personal information is being used or misused by businesses, even government agencies like the NSA.

The tips below will help you better protect yourself from having your personal information collected and sold:

Understand the Value of Your Data

Treat your data like money. Your personal information is valuable, and companies are interested in collecting it, purchasing it, and selling it.

It may feel uncomfortable to realize that you’re a commodity to tech companies and marketers, but this awareness will help you understand the value of protecting your personal information.

The next step is understanding how they use this data so that you can protect yourself from third-party trackers who collect anonymized information about us without our knowledge or permission.

Track What’s Going on With Your Data

The first step to protecting your personal information is knowing who has access to it and how it’s being used. You can do this by using a data tracker, which will show you what companies have collected data about you and where that data is being stored and who has access to it.

This information might surprise you—and scare you into action, too! If there are any companies on your list whose products or services you didn’t know were tracking personal information, then now is the time to lose their business from you forever. You don’t want them collecting sensitive details without your consent or knowledge.

Set Up a Burner Email

Another way you can stop companies from collecting and selling your information is by using a burner email. A burner email is an optional alternate email address that you can create on any free email service like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook.com. The idea is that you use it for non-critical accounts so that if someone hacks your primary address or gets a hold of it in some other way, they won’t have access to those secondary accounts.

In addition to keeping all of your passwords private (see below), we highly recommend setting up an alias on Gmail so that when someone emails you at “[email protected],” they get forwarded. Over to “[email protected]” It’s almost like having separate inboxes!

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Turn Off Location Tracking on Your Phone

To turn off location tracking on your iPhone, go to Settings and select Privacy. From there, choose Location Services and toggle it off.

To turn off location tracking on an Android phone, go to Settings and select Privacy. Then scroll down until you see Location Services and toggle it off.

To turn off location tracking on a Windows phone:

  • Go to the Start menu (the icon with four squares).
  • Tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Off

Clear Your Cookies and Cache Between Web Sessions

Cookies are small files that a browser saves on your computer when you visit a website. They track your browsing habits and can be used to display ads related to the websites you’ve visited, so companies sell this information to advertisers to build up profiles about you.

If you want to stop cookies from being used for ad tracking, delete them after each session. It’s easy:

  • Choose “Settings” or “Options” on the menu bar in your browser window.
  • Select “Privacy” or “Security.” If there is no such option, try one of these: History > Clear Recent History; History > Show Cookies; Settings > Advanced > Show All Browser Data (Firefox) or Advanced (Chrome).
  • Click on “Show Full History” in Chrome or “Clear Browsing Data” under “Tools.” Then select “Cached Images & Files” from the list of options. When prompted whether you want all items deleted from here on out, answer yes by clicking “Clear Now.” This will also clear search history and download history!

Use an Adblocker

  • Use an adblocker.
  • Ad blockers are an excellent tool for blocking annoying ads and speeding up your web browsing, but they can also block trackers that collect data on you while you’re browsing. Adblock Plus is a free browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. If you want to take things one step further, try Privacy Badger, which will automatically block trackers on websites that aren’t already blocked by AdBlock Plus.

Change Your Privacy Settings on Social Media

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube, including YouTube Kids and Google+’s video-sharing platform (which has a separate privacy policy)
  • Snapchat is also owned by Snap Inc. (the same company as Snapchat).
  • Many other social media platforms collect your data: Reddit, Pinterest, TikTok, Apple, and Amazon.

Read the Terms and Conditions Before Clicking “Agree”

Before you click “agree” to the terms and conditions of a website, be sure to read them carefully. Although they are written in legalese that is difficult to understand, the studies show that most people don’t bother reading these documents at all—and if they do, it’s only for about 10 seconds.

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To help in your efforts to make sense of these long legal notices, there are several tools available online:

  • TermsFeed (https://termsfeed.com) lets you analyze any webpage’s terms and conditions before agreeing to them by highlighting areas that may be important or interesting. It also gives explanations for each section to better understand what’s being said.
  • TermsCloud (http://tosdrv1.org/) organizes common phrases in contracts by topic area instead of just listing all clauses alphabetically as most other websites do. For example, if I search for “I agree” on this site, I will find a list including all instances where companies use this phrase as part of their data collection processes; then, if I click on one entry from this list (for example “Facebook uses ‘I agree’ when asking users permission”), I’ll find more useful information such as when they ask permission first (iTunes), how often they ask it after initial consent (“daily,” according to Facebook), whether or not they require social network authorization before allowing access (“yes”), etc.[[br]]

Get Better Deals by Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a tool that allows you to access the internet anonymously and privately. A good VPN can help keep you safe while browsing the web by encrypting your data and making it unavailable for third parties to view.

A VPN can also access content that may be blocked in your areas, like Netflix or Hulu. You simply connect to an American server using your VPN, then watch what you want on these sites as if you were in the United States! When traveling abroad, you can even use this same method; connecting through a U.S.-based server will give you access to all HBO shows when they air here!

Companies make money from people’s personal information, but you can find ways to stop them from collecting it.

Companies make money from people’s personal information, but you can find ways to stop them from collecting it.

Companies have a lot of data on you—when you’re awake, where you are, and what time it is in your location at any given moment—and they’re going to use that data to make a profit. You can fight back by making sure that companies don’t have access to your information in the first place.

Conclusion

The world is changing, and if you don’t pay attention, you could be the next victim of identity theft. You can do a few things to protect yourself, but it starts with knowing what information companies are collecting about you and how they might use that information.

If this article has opened your eyes to just how much personal data companies collect on us every day, it has served its purpose. Do yourself a favor and make sure the companies that collect your data aren’t selling or trading it off to others without your permission.

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