You go online to look up the hours of the pizza place down the street and see an ad for a medication that matches the diagnoses you received two weeks ago. Wow, that’s creepy, you think, but you move on, assuming it’s a coincidence.
But then ads for pizza and the medication you need show up in your Facebook feed. Once you notice it, you realize this sort of thing has been happening more and more. Now you are starting to wonder if your house or car or person are bugged.
Data brokers are selling your information to advertisers in order to deliver relevant ads to your eyes.
Yes, it’s all very creepy. But things get real when your hostile ex you have gone to a great effort to avoid calls your new cell phone number. How did that happen? Did someone you trust — someone who knows how much trouble you’ve gone to to get away from him — give him your number?
Don’t go on the attack. This was probably data brokers, again. They gather your information wherever they can collect it and publish it, aggregated, in lists that are easy to access. Your ex doesn’t have to be clever or technical. He might have paid just $10 for that information. But it was easy to find.
The are dozens of sites that aggregate information from data brokers and collect it into databases to sell to people like your ex—or identity thieves who want to gather enough personal data about you that they can get credit in your name and otherwise steal your identity for their own financial gain.
What can you do to stop this?
You can go to all the data brokers and request that your information be removed from their databases. They will require you to fill out forms and follow up to make sure it happened. When they scrape the Internet again with bots that collect data, chances are good that you’ll end up right back in that database. And you’ll have to do it all over again.
Or you can sign up for DeleteMe and let the experts handle all of that for you now, and every three months from now.