Authored by: Aaniyah Hicks, Red Five Investigative Intern
What are Data Aggregators?
Data aggregators, also known as people-finder sites, scour the internet looking for people’s personally identifiable information (PII) in order to compile easily accessible online profiles of the individual. Data aggregators pull your information from a variety of public sources, including public records such as property records and marriage licenses, information you voluntarily provide, and/or social media profiles – where your name, age, and location are readily available. Some data aggregators also display data that has been sold by other companies and services, such as retail rewards cards.
How Can Bad Actors Utilize the Information on Data Aggregators?
There were 5.8 million reports of identity theft and fraud in 2021. More than 1.4 million of these cases involved consumer identity theft, according to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Although everyone is susceptible to these crimes, high-profile individuals and executives may want to pay extra attention to public disclosure of PII as they typically face greater threats to their privacy as well as physical and digital security.
Data aggregators can provide bad actors such as identity thieves and stalkers access to private information, resulting in greater risk to your personal safety and the security of your information. Bad actors can utilize exposed PII to:
- Guess your passwords;
- Forge fake documents;
- Stalk you and your family;
- Access your accounts;
- Sell your information to third parties, resulting in more spam emails and calls;
- Locate your address;
- Monitor your social media; and
- Open credit cards in your name.
What Information Can Be Removed From Data Aggregators?
Removing PII from data aggregators is a crucial step in promoting the protection of you and your privacy. However, this does not imply that the internet has been scrubbed of all information pertaining to you. Types of information that can be removed from data aggregators compared to other online data sources is broken down below. (View or download as infographic.)
Red Five’s WebScrub service identifies which data aggregators display your personal information and requests that they be removed as a critical step in your online privacy protection. Contact us for more information.