Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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3 Easy Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information Online

Posted by Writing PIs on November 22, 2010


The Web is a vast e-world filled with social connections, shopping expeditions, job opportunities, educational studies and much, much more.  As you login, register and post, you’re providing information about yourself, sometimes unwittingly so.  Although most people aren’t online to delve into your confidential data, unfortunately, there are those who are.  Let’s look at 3 easy ways to protect your personal information so it doesn’t find its way into the wrong virtual hands.

Get a private mail box. It’s fun to shop online, but it’s wise to not have your purchases shipped to your home address.  The biggest reason is that you don’t know which companies are selling your private information–such as your home address–to other vendors and databases.  Easy to circumvent this by purchasing a private mailbox (such as from MAIL BOXES, ETC.).  You could also purchase a private mail box from a United States post office, but they don’t accept courier shipments, such as from FedEx or UPS, on your behalf (whereas private mail box companies do).   It’s also handy to have a private mail box address for any online registration forms that require an address.

Get a virtual phone number. In our investigations business, when a valid phone number shows on our business caller ID, we have the person’s name, address, date of birth, gender, driver’s license number (and more) within thirty seconds. Rather than provide your main phone number or even a cell phone number to businesses and others online, instead use an untraceable virtual phone number (which you can set up to ring through to your “real” phone number, automatically go to voice mail, and/or be transcribed to an email text messages).  A few companies that offer virtual phone numbers are Inumber and Grasshopper.

Get a throw-away email address. Just as we’re often asked for an address and phone number in online forms, we’re almost always asked for an email address.  Instead of offering your main email addresses, instead use a throw-away one (one you set up for certain websites, businesses, shopping sites, even certain people contacts).  Lots of email services let you register anonymously for an email account (meaning, don’t register with your real name, address, and other personal information–instead, register with any information you want, such as Greta Garbo at 1234 Mysterious Lane).  A few sites that let you register anonymously for an email account are Google, Hotmail and Yahoo!.

There you have it.  Three easy, virtual means to protect your personal information while online.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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