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Security & privacy

A tool to find and opt out of all the sites collecting your data

How often do you check the terms when you’re signing up for new services or accounts? You may check over the basics, like monthly subscription payments you’ve agreed to or terms of service, but do you really know what else you’re signing on the dotted line for?

It’s not uncommon for companies or websites to share your information with others — and in most cases, you give them permission to when you sign up for their services. But if you’re giving carte blanche for information to be shared, how can you keep personal information secure? After all, data breaches are not uncommon — and when they happen, it puts you at risk in a number of different ways.

You need to make sure you have a tight grip on who can access your data. Fortunately, there is a tool that can help you limit the websites and services that share your information. It’s easy to use, and taking the time to do so will help protect you from the pitfalls of data breaches.

Simple solution for protecting personal data

Have you heard of Simple Opt Out? It’s a website that compiles dozens of sites and services that share your information or use questionable marketing practices that you might not be aware of. It gives a couple of examples of the type of marketing and data sharing it targets, including:

  • Chase may share your “account balances and transaction history — For nonaffiliates to market to you.”
  • Crate & Barrel may share “your customer information [name, postal address and email address, and transactions you conduct on its website or offline] with other select companies.”
  • InterContinental Hotels may share “your information with third parties … to extend special offers about their own products and services.”

But it isn’t just an info site. Simple Opt Out also makes it easier to stop your data or information from being shared or sold.

It can be difficult to figure out how to remove those types of permissions without this site. Companies have a vested financial interest in keeping you on the shared data list, and you may not even be able to find a link or webpage with instructions on how to opt out.

That’s where Simple Opt Out comes in. It offers information and opt-out links for a ton of different sites, from the consumer genetic testing site 23&Me to American Express.

Let’s take 23&Me, for example. This website is essentially used for DNA and genetics research, which you probably want to keep a tight grip on.

Simple Opt Out gives you information on what is shared — in this case, DNA sharing — and links to 23&Me policies on how your information is shared for marketing purposes. It also gives you links to change privacy settings in your account as well as links to opt out of shared marketing communications and research.

Or what about AAA, which shares or sells members’ info with third parties? AAA doesn’t offer you the option to opt out of data sharing online. Simple Opt Out gives you links to the policy that allows AAA to do this, and also gives you the phone number to call and opt out.

But what about more complicated situations, like the one with Meredith/Time Inc? After all, this company has a ton of different brands under its umbrella, including Allrecipes, American Baby, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Life, Diabetic Living, EatingWell, Entertainment Weekly, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Family Circle, Fitness, Food & Wine, Money, Parents, People, Shape, Sports Illustrated and others.

How does Simple Opt Out handle that? Well, Meredith/Time Inc. share or sell subscriber info with third parties, and Simple Opt Out gives you links for both the complete offline opt-out and online opt-out. You can use the complete opt-out to remove your permission for sharing from any and all Time Inc./Meredith brands.

For each of the websites or companies, Simple Opt Out gives you either a direct link to the opt-out page or directions on how to do it. It also gives you the option to request a company to be added to the list or see opt-out tips.

Want to know more about data brokering and how your information is shared or sold by companies? Check out these stories for more information:

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