If you’re trying to protect yourself against the threats of identity theft and fraud, ensuring your privacy is an important first step. To do so, you can try opting out of certain features and services that could be using your information right now. In the final installment of our two-part series, we discuss another three ways to do so:
- Data Collection
As the name would suggest, data brokers collect and sell consumer data, according to the World Privacy Forum. While this means they have large amounts of information on many American consumers, most of these brokers offer some sort of opt-out feature to help consumers maximize their privacy. While it can be challenging to figure out how to do this, Time magazine points out that consumers can view and edit this data through the website Aboutthedata.com.
Another way your data could be collected is through your computer. According to PC Magazine, Windows 10 by Microsoft collects information on its users to understand how it can improve its software and services. However, some of this data can be fairly personal, such as search queries, documents and voice commands. While Microsoft says it does not use personal files to target ads, consumers are able to opt out of many of the ways that Windows 10 can collect information about you. The downside, however, is that it may disable some of the operating system’s new features.
- Location Tracking
If you have a smartphone, you likely take it everywhere you go. Whether or not you realize it, your device is following you pretty closely through these locations. Most new devices automatically collect location information, including addresses and the times you spend there, and are able to determine details like which are your home or office.
While Apple and other smartphone manufacturers insist that this information is kept only on the device and cannot be used without your consent, it could pose an issue if your phone was ever lost or stolen. It’s important for consumers to know that they can turn this setting off at any time. Plenty of step-by-step directions can be found online to guide you through the process, depending on the device you use.
- Student Directory Information
Thanks to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts, parents have the right to withhold their child’s educational information, including records, report cards, transcripts and contact information, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Because child identity theft is a problem, protecting this information can be an important step in reducing that vulnerability.
While information like transcripts or disciplinary records already require some level of consent for release, parents can protect their child’s “directory information” by filling out a FERPA opt out form. That can include student names, addresses, telephone numbers and other combinations of personal details that could be useful to a fraudster, according to the World Privacy Forum.
With the amount of data out there, it can feel like you’re being watched at every turn. Luckily, there are plenty of attainable steps to help protect your privacy, but remember nothing can completely keep you safe from identity theft. Add to your security by investing in an identity theft protection plan that can monitor your credit files and notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud.