How to Check Out, Erase and Protect Your Online Identity

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With the introduction of a new service that purports to completely erase all traces of data about you from the internet, we've been thinking a lot about our own privacy and online identities, and wondering just how much information is out there. Whether you're facing a job recruiter armed with Google or you're getting one too many spam emails, it's a good idea to have a handle on your own data. We've put together these five useful tips for how to check yourself out, and how to get rid of what you don't want, below.1. Search For Yourself Of course, the first step is to hit Google to see what turns up. But don't just search for your name; try old email addresses, internet handles you may have used, or the titles of old, ill-conceived blogs you may have started back in the day.

Be sure to check yourself out on Spokeo, an online phonebook, and these instructions to remove your listing.

2. Delete What You Can
Often, you can still log in or recover old accounts, as is the case with sites like MySpace or LiveJournal. Try contacting customer service if you no longer have access to the emails you used originally to sign up for the services.

Keep a list of all the accounts you find with notes about the status of each, so nothing gets overlooked.

3. Use Removal Request Tools
A lot of search engines have "Delete URL" options, and Ask.com even has a search activity eraser. Be sure to set your own sites up so that they can't be indexed, too.

4. Hire a Service
Delete Me is a group that starts at $10 to remove your information and profiles from any sites it finds online, by navigating the complicated privacy and protection laws.

5. Take Care in the Future
Use a free proxy such as Hide My Ass! to hide your IP address while surfing. Create a new email address with a pseudonym, or use random usernames across sites when you need to sign up. Try Bug Me Not or Mailinator rather than sign up for sites.

Do you have any tips for safer, more anonymous internet usage? Share them with other Unplggd readers in the comments below.

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