Data privacy is a hot topic in the tech community and one of the key pillars behind web3. The last few years have seen more and more data leaks and breaches. In this article, we will explore some of the tools that are available to us today for better managing our personal and professional information online.
Manage Your Professional Data
Equifax now offers a new "employment verification solution" called https://theworknumber.com. From the looks of it, your current or former employer likely sold your data to Equifax so that they can construct a Work Number database. If your employer did not sell your data, then they might be unknowingly given it away through 3rd party tax apps like Quickbooks.
Yes, read that again. Intuit's Quickbooks gives Equifax employee data unless an employer explicitly opts-out[^archive-quickbooks].
Other companies that provide verified data include: Credit Karma (owned by Intuit), JPMorgan Chase, American Express)
Manage Your Private Data
Delete your personal data without negatively impacting your credit score [^archive-myprivacy]. Currently only available to residents of California.
OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of firm offers of credit or insurance. They offers two ways to opt-out, 5 year opt-out and lifetime opt-out. The lifetime option requires a printer, blue ink, envelope, stamp and mailbox but it's a small amount of effort to eliminate hundreds of pounds of needless paper waste.
Annualcreditreport.com offers a free credit report to make sure that the reported information is accurate and complete. Its definitely worth your time to review all the credit cards you've opened (or not opened) over the past few years.
Request Additional Copies of your credit report in certain circumstances, such as after placing a fraud alert, becoming unemployed, receiving public assistance, or being denied credit or insurance in the past 60 days. Through this option, you can also place a credit freeze and request up to 6 free Equifax credit reports.
Public records from local, state and federal courts can be requested from LexisNexis[^archive-lexis]. LexisNexis Consumer Center, P.O. Box 105615, Atlanta, GA 30348-5108
If you need credit help, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) is a non−profit organization that offers free or low−cost financial counseling to help people solve their financial problems. CCCS can help you analyze your situation and work with you to develop solutions. Call 1 (800) 388−2227 for the telephone number of the office nearest you.
In Chris Anderson's book regarding the 12 tech forces that will shape our future, he describes information as going from permanent to flowing. This is a big deal considering that Wikipedia –one of the pioneers of evolving data change– has since developed many mechanisms to prevent data from flowing too quickly. For this reason, I've taken the time to archive the links above. I hope these archive snapshots prove to serve as signal in a growing world of data noise.
- [^archive-pdf] (https://web.archive.org/web/20220107125150/https://assets.equifax.com/wfs/theworknumber/assets/twn_Employment_Data_Freeze_Placement_Form.pdf)