How Much Information About You Is Exposed Online?
The internet is an integral part of our lives. In fact, we do so much online now that it’s virtually impossible to keep all traces of ourselves offline.
And even if we miraculously did somehow manage to keep our personal data off the internet, it wouldn’t be enough to control what’s out there anyway; whatever other people put out to the web about us remains in plain sight for all to see.
The first step to protecting yourself from this unfortunate reality is to understand how much information about you is actually exposed, who is looking for it, and how you can minimize the damage.
What Can a Background Check Reveal About Me?
All you need to do is run a self background check and you can see the breadth of the information available about you online.
Your own social media account activity, or your interactions with forums and comment sections, can easily be found. In addition, the things other people write or post about you will also be clearly visible.
But that’s far from the complete picture. Federal, state, and municipal criminal records of all kinds can make their way online. Driving records, educational documents, and the amount of debt you carry can be discovered as well. Even property records can be found, outlining the location of real estate you own, and the most recent sale price.
And this is just a sampling of what’s out there, ‘hiding’ in plain sight.
Who Might Run a Background Check on Me Without My Knowledge?
Given the huge amount of information out there about you, it’s important to understand who might be looking for it. Fortunately, there are laws regulating when a background check is permitted.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) bans the use of certain types of checks by employers or landlords. Of course, what “should” happen and what actually does happen aren’t always the same thing; there is no guarantee that the law will be followed, and it can be difficult to prove otherwise.
Beyond employment, many other common uses for background checks remain fair game. A potential new roommate wanting to scope you out, a first date you met on the internet, or a neighbor wanting to know if you have a criminal past are all common examples of people who might run a background check on you.
What Can We Do to Maintain Some Kind of Online Privacy?
Background checks return records found in the public domain, making it difficult to maintain privacy. Best practices include being careful about your own internet use, as well as getting as much information expunged from public records as possible. Of course, this isn’t always easy to do.
If you are really that concerned about what others might see when running a background check on you, the best course of action is to simply run one on yourself. Although this won’t erase the information, it will let you know what people are looking at, so you can do your best to mitigate the damage from it.