5 Ways to Stop Brokers Accessing Your Personal Data Online


Data brokers collect and sell large amounts of personal information, which is then used by marketers, financial services firms and, sometimes, even scammers.

If you want to protect your online privacy, here are five ways to prevent brokers from accessing your online data.

How do data brokers operate?

Data brokers operate in different sectors, including health, financial services, recruitment and risk mitigation.

There are also people search sites that hold contact information and other personal data, including geolocation. These brokers build up detailed profiles of individuals, which they use for their own purposes or sell for profit without your informed consent.

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Brokers get this information from such sources as websites, social media pages and public records. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent brokers from accessing your data. Here are just five:

1. Check your privacy settings

One of the most important ways in which you can secure your data privacy is to check the privacy settings on any apps and websites you use. Google is a good place to start, along with Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. Use the privacy settings to limit how much of your data is shared with third parties. It is also a good idea to alter the privacy settings of your smartphone to limit ad tracking.

2. Delete cookies

Another action you can take to help protect your online privacy is to delete cookies from your browser. These small text files are downloaded on to your smartphone or computer to allow websites to collect information. There are rules relating to how websites use cookies, which include a requirement to tell users about the cookies and to gain consent to store cookies on a user’s device. You can also change your browser’s privacy settings to block third-party cookies.

3. Access the web using a VPN

Accessing the internet using a virtual private network (VPN) adds a layer of security and anonymity to your online activities by hiding your IP address and encrypting web traffic. This makes it more difficult for data brokers to track what you are doing online.

4. Log out of social media sites

A further way to limit data brokers’ access to your information and protect your data privacy is to log out of any social media sites before browsing the internet. This way, you can avoid your shopping habits and other online activities being tracked.

5. Limit the information you share online

Another way to protect your personal data is to think twice about what you share, such as in social media posts. Everything you share can potentially be scraped by data brokers. Not only does this present a risk of brokers accessing your data, it also increases the risk of fraud.

Removing existing data from brokers

In addition to preventing brokers from accessing your personal data, it is also important to get any data they already hold removed. Many of the brokers have opt out processes that allow individuals, or data removal companies working on their behalf, to request personal data is removed. This helps to reduce the risk of that data being used without your informed consent.