Red Tape wrestling tips: Five things you can do right now to protect your privacy

1. Create a “disposable” e-mail account that you use to sign up with various websites. It’ll keep your main e-mail account “cleaner,” and prevent firms from tracking you across sites.

2. Create a fake persona, complete with birthday and phone number, that you can use to sign up for grocery store loyalty cards and the like

3. Turn off location information everywhere:

*At this page on Twitter, uncheck “add location to my Tweets” and click on “delete all location information.” Give Twitter a pat on the back for making this easy.

*Be aware that photos, particularly photos taken with smartphones, often tell the world where they were taken unless you stop them. Various smartphone have slightly different instructions for this, but it generally involves either changing the camera setting, or changing the phone’s universal GPS settings. You’ll find some good specifics here.

Also note: photo-sharing services like Flickr can betray location information, too. Check your service’s settings.

4. Review what the big boys know about you.

Get to know your Google dashboard

Get to know Facebook search (what? Facebook keeps a database of old lovers you’ve searched for? Yes.) Sorry, I can’t link to it directly. Click on Activity log, then “search” on the left-hand side of the page. You might have to click “more” first. Empty it, if you like. And marvel at everything else Facebook knows about you. While you are there, double-check your Facebook privacy settings. Click on that starburst-like thingy on the right, then pick “privacy settings.”

5. Complain.  Whenever a company asks to personal information that ‘s excessive, voice your displeasure. In reality, you are probably too busy to die on the hill of keeping your Social Security Number from the secretary at the doctor’s office, but that’s ok. Even if you ultimately give in, complain. Make it a pain in the butt for the secretary. Eventually, she will complain to her boss, and change will occur.

(Got more tips? E-mail them to Bob at BobSullivan dot net (that’s dot NET)

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About Bob Sullivan 1477 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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