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Online privacy becomes a growing concern as data becomes more accessible

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Mar 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-12 15:43:10-05

(WXYZ) — Transitioning our work and social life online may have ticked the convenience box, but it comes with a caveat. Our privacy is heavily compromised.

Experts say a simple search on the internet can reveal an individual’s home address, phone number, and more.

In fact, according to the latest annual Data Breach Report, the overall number of data compromises last year was up more than 68% compared to 2020.

Elizabeth Lucas, a Michigan-based strength trainer, can relate to the pain of seeing friends suffer due to this rising crime.

"It's such a hassle. It takes years and years to get back, to get a new number, new address and switch over, and stop being charged and stuff like that," said Lucas.

Most people don’t realize that they’ve become a victim of identity theft till it's too late. To make matters worse, Senior Vice President of OneRep Mark Kapczynski says these days you can find a lot about someone on the internet in 30 seconds.

"They are called people search websites," says the security expert. "They basically buy all our personal information, name addresses, DOB, where we work, everything about our kids. What’s worse is that they just don’t store it to sell it on their site. They create pages that can be indexed by google, so that's why it shows up on google."

For cybercriminals, bypassing the two from authentication on your phone is easy. Kapczynski says one starting point is when shoppers sign up for a rewards program or join a store’s mailing list. That’s when they are at risk of having their information sold to people search websites.

"You don’t have this issue in other countries, where you have companies that literally can sell personal information on the internet. To me, it's remarkable that we haven’t from a legislative standpoint and put an end to it," states Kapczynski.

Lucas thinks it's crazy that this is a U.S. problem.

"I don't feel safe like I don’t want to shop. Don’t want to get my information out there," said Lucas.

Kapczynski says it's scary that there are over 150 websites that are selling your information.

Changing passwords and having a secondary email and phone number are all good places to start. Still, Kapczynski says one of the most effective solutions is to sign up for a web scrubbing service, where a customer's data is monitored and removed every time it pops up.

"We got to stop companies from selling your data in the first place," says Kapczynski. "Not rely on 300 million Americans to have to solve this problem by themselves."

If you have plans to hit the dating world, then Kapczynski's advice is to have your data scrubbed because he has seen cases where stalkers would use dating profile information to locate a person’s address and show up at their doorstep.