It’s time to tackle the growing problem of your personal data being removed from uncontrolled online display, and there are solutions within your grasp.

Let’s face some hard facts about life online. We spend a lot of time with our electronic devices connected to the Internet. Websites track our movements, and mobile apps follow us everywhere we go and what we do. Data brokers are constantly on the lookout for little pieces of information that allow them to maintain a high-risk individual profile on us.

Like it or not, this is business. Businesses are targeting you with personalized sales pitches, hooking you up with online fraud scams, and reaping clues to your Internet identity. According to various industry reports in recent years, more than 4,000 data broker sites are collecting data from more than 500 million consumers.

Plus, you’ve probably painted a convenient picture of yourself using social media with lots of clues to your online identity. So never doubt that your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is exposed to hackers and people trackers, putting your personal and financial security at risk.

This article will help you become more aware of the rogue’s tactics to digitally track and attack you as they attempt to steal your data and online identity and make you a prime target for ransomware. . Familiarize yourself with these strategies for removing your data from public records websites and other online hotbeds of disparity.

clean yourself off the internet

Typically, personal data is harvested, bought, and sold over and over again. It’s hard to know who has access to your information, so it becomes a constant game of monitoring where your data resides, often only to find that it’s somewhere new.

Information on the Internet is so vast that it is nearly impossible to attempt to clean up your information with a broad-stroke solution. Search engines – Google has the largest footprint in this regard – are constantly gathering information about people and businesses. Add to that your social media and website presence. All those bits and pieces of data about you make it nearly impossible to prevent your name from appearing in search results.

Many data broker sites harvest your personal information, gleaning details of your life from public records and your online activity. It is a good practice to periodically search for news about yourself because once deleted, the data may pop up again elsewhere.

You can make the task of cleaning up your online identity more manageable by taking smaller, more targeted strokes that reduce the information available about you. Do what hunters do — search your name and see what descriptions and web sources appear in the results. Start with the biggest, Google, and make a list of where you get the most detailed data about yourself.

Next, make yourself less findable. Start the process from your default web browser. Go to the browser’s Settings panel and look for the Data & Privacy heading, then turn off the History setting and Record Web & App Activity. Repeat the process in any secondary browser you use.

Review your profile details in the “About Me” sections of the apps you use and in the privacy and security settings in social media apps and business listings. Consider removing as much personal, complex information as possible from everything you do and say online. This includes photos and other family pictures, as well as apps like Facebook and LinkedIn to restrict who has access to your most sensitive information.

Remove your personal data from public records sites

The growing focus on personal privacy online is forcing businesses to make changes in the way they wheel and deal with your data. Some of the barriers and stall tactics used by data brokers and search engine companies to make it harder for you to steal your personal information from their online warehouses have softened.

Here is a list of major data collection websites to consider targeting with deletion of information requests to help protect your privacy:

You can approach these online personal information mills and ask them to extract at least some personal details about you. Sometimes, you can even refuse to allow them to sell your information.

Often, one only has to check their websites to find their contact instructions for sending an email to request removal. Some offer an online form to request deletion of your information.

External help to get control of PII

When it comes to tracking your personally identifiable information online, the more you see, the more you find. Launching a mole-mole privacy campaign could bring down all but the most staunch defenders.

To take down the lone ranger approach, you can take the help of data deletion services. These companies use their own servers and search tools to automate the process for you. Subscribing to removal services that continually scrape and remove personal data can be a good investment.

Some data removal companies excel at doing this better than others. Beware of free services or services that offer bargain basement discounts. If you’re not happy with the results of one company, try another. The monthly or annual fee may be worthwhile to help your data disappear from the web. Some of these data deletion services offer free trials to give you a chance to assess their effectiveness.

In no particular order of preference, here are some of the services to check out:

  • OneRep claims to remove your personal and family information from Google and over 190 other websites.
  • BrandYourself is an online reputation management and privacy company providing solutions for individuals and businesses.
  • DeleteMe is a privacy information removal service that specializes in removing your personal information from Google’s vast search reporting network.
  • Incogni deals directly with data brokers, so you don’t have to spend hours guarding a display of where you live, your phone number, and where you prefer on the weekend to avoid falling into the wrong hands. It uses applicable privacy laws to compel data brokers to remove your personal information from their databases.
  • Privacy Bee helps to opt out of data broker databases and marketing lists.

Do It Yourself Privacy Options

If you’re more comfortable scrubbing the web yourself, a number of websites can help you achieve your privacy goals. Check out these handy web-based tools to fight your personal data privacy campaign.

  • Mine lets you find out where your personal data is located on the web. It can help you curate your online exposure to better ensure you are in control of your data ownership.
  • Unroll.Me is a toolbox for tackling the clutter that often builds up with online subscriptions. It automates the process of managing and revoking your digital trail with the possible sharing of your contact information. Note, however, that Unroll.Me is owned by e-commerce measurement firm NielsenIQ, so read their data collection and use policies when evaluating the service for privacy purposes.
  • Jumbo Privacy is a mobile app that helps you take control of your digital presence. It monitors the content of messages you send to limit unrestricted personal data sharing. This can be a tool to help you reduce the digital fragments that have already been shared. It constantly scans the Internet for signs that your data may have been compromised.
  • Just Delete Me is a website and browser extension that helps you delete your accounts from multiple web services. It uses a color-coding system to show whether the deletion process is easy, not so easy, or difficult on some 100 web services.

We hope these tips for limiting exposure to your personal data will help you secure your digital experience and protect your identity, your reputation, and your assets.

If you’re looking for a solution for low-end mobile devices that works equally well for portable devices that are usually desk-bound, consider the Poly Sync 20 Speakerphone.

The unit I tested is the limited-edition pink version of the Poly Sync 20. The pink device has all the same features as the gray fabric and frame version, which serves as a personal speakerphone, a portable music speaker, and a smartphone charger.

Aside from the unique pink fabric covering on top of the limited edition, the standard-color gray device pictured above won’t disappoint.

For every Pink Sink unit sold from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023, Pauley will donate $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This is a good incentive to consider purchasing this product.

The gray and pink versions are currently list-priced at $129.95. However, the cost ranges from $89.95 to $149.95 depending on special offers and optional features.

Hassle Free Sound Upgrade

I had no problem connecting the portable multi-purpose speaker to all my devices. These include laptop computers and full-size desktop computer configurations running Windows, macOS, and Linux.

In most cases, the device immediately defaults to the poly speaker when connected. Otherwise, all I had to do was select the sound card or speaker device I wanted to connect in the computer’s system settings.

The 28″ included USB Type-A cable is long enough to reach the host computer’s connection port if placed nearby. A second USB port lets you use a longer cable if needed, or other connectors to interface with devices like Chromebooks. If you don’t need the included USB cable for connection, you can wrap it around the bottom of the base to hide it.

Poly Sync 20 Pink Bluetooth Smart Speakerphone

Poly Sync 20 Pink USB/Bluetooth Smart Speakerphone (Image Credit: Poly)

On the top edge of the front are five touch buttons marked with icons. On the far left is a rocket silhouette indicating buttons for programming. You can program frequently used functions such as play/pause music, last-number redial and voice assistant.

There’s a phone icon on the top right button to answer (flash green) or end (red) a phone call. In the center are buttons for volume down (-), volume up (+), and microphone on/off (the mic icon with a line through it).

To the right of the speakerphone is the Bluetooth pairing button on the left, the second USB port in the middle, and the on/off power button on the right. Speakerphone announces when it connects and disconnects from all devices.

great sound quality

When I’m away from my desktop computer’s terrible soundbar, I spend most of my time suffering through subpar sound reproduction from my portable gear. Thus, I’ve endured countless portable speakers in my travels.

Some were adequate, though rarely more than a little loud. So, testing the Poly Smart Speakerphone was an unexpected treat.

Impressive sound quality bathed my ears with deep bass tones and rich treble sound. I frequently clicked between the tiny laptop speaker and the connected Polly speaker to confirm that my ears weren’t deceiving me. Every time I was more struck by the clear sound gradation, which didn’t wobble when transferred between devices.

Whether I was having a mobile phone conversation, making a video call, or playing audio files or selecting music, the Poly Portable Speaker sounded great.

Useful, Smart Design

The Poly boasts an intelligent design, multiple connectivity options and a bundle of extra features. It’s small with dimensions measuring 1.3″ x 3.7″ x 7.2″, lightweight at 12.7 ounces, and has tons of extra features that bundle the jobs of multiple portable tools into one super handy tool.

You can use Poly Speakerphone to share voices from around the room during a call. It is also a useful battery charger for various types of mobile devices.

Poly Sync 20 speakerphone can be used to charge a smartphone

The Poly Sync 20 can charge a smartphone via USB (Image credit: Poly)

It also comes with a carry case and lanyard. Apart from protecting the speakerphone from dust and dirt while carrying it around, the cloth case has limited utility. The purpose of the lanyard remains a mystery.

The 3200mAh non-replaceable Lithium-Ion battery takes about four hours to fully charge, providing 20 hours of talk time.

Other Notable Specs

Poly has packed this speakerphone with additional impressive components that serve better than expected:

  • Bluetooth 5.1, Multi microphones that track the talker with a frequency response of 100Hz to 6.7KHz and a pickup range of up to seven feet.
  • Dynamic audio makes conference calls smooth and clear despite the speaker’s small size (1.6″), delivering a peak audio output of 86dB SPL at 0.5m.
  • Noise cancellation and echo reduction circuitry drive significant improvements in performance compared to similar portable speaker products.

Poly provides separate procurement device management solutions for enterprise use. But I had a more than satisfactory experience for my one-person office needs.

ground level

The Poly Sync 20 is a change of pace for the Poly line of speakerphone webcams (see my Poly Studio P5 webcam review) that fits in with the company’s focus on the needs of remote and hybrid workers.

For many users, the Poly Sync 20 will prove to be better than wearing a headset, especially during long cell phone calls. It also helps the user not to be seen wearing headgear while participating in a business video call.

Poly Sync is compatible with 20 of the most popular meeting platforms including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco, RingCentral and more.

The art of automating business communication extends to maximizing attendance with a robotic labor force to repurpose handwritten letters to customers and produce correspondence.

The Handwrytten app is part of an automated CRM tool that lets businesses – and individuals with an entrepreneurial passion – integrate computerized automation with personalized handwritten notes to customers. The result is a new approach to updating one of marketing’s most well-known strategies – the personal letter.

Retailers today have destroyed the effectiveness of thank you notes and personal business letters. Delivered electronically in plain vanilla-typed emails and SMS messages, people have learned to reach for the delete button or send-to-spam response for most retail-related correspondence arriving in their inbox.

The Handwritten Web-based service uses robots to manipulate marketing messages into handwritten polished prose. It helps marketing teams to automate and automate what was once a fine art of letter writing. The Handwrytten app and computer interface let you create professionally designed handwritten notes that are delivered to customers and customers’ postal mailboxes.

Consumers expect to receive emails, text messages and bulk mailers from companies. They rarely read or pay attention to them regularly. Handwrytten is an effective way for businesses to help their sales and marketing teams to better connect with potential and existing customers.

“People understand the power of a personal note, but no one has the time to sit down and actually take a pen and write. That is why we have created a platform to automate the process from end to end,” says Handwriten. Founder and CEO David Wach said.

Taking advantage of state-of-the-art robotic technology to automate what appears to be impossible to automate. These notes have been proven to deliver incredible and lasting results for our customers, he added.

Fine Arts Revisited

Founded in 2014, Wachs had a vision to bring back handwritten communication in business. He wanted to address an unmet need: to make it easier to send handwritten notes as emails.

To solve this problem, he invested heavily in robotics to build a machine unmatched in handwriting quality and scalability. Their 175+ patented Handwrite robots each autonomously write about 500 notes a day.

handwritten factory

image credit: handwritten

The company now makes its own handwriting robots to create more realistic Kalamkari. Each robotic machine monitors its ink level and communicates with tenders via Slack if it jams or runs out of ink.

On a larger scale, the company continues to manufacture more machines to meet the demand. Watch plans to double the machine’s capacity this year.

This 2016 video shows how the company first used off-the-shelf, third-party machines to fulfill orders.

machine maintains human behavior

Handwriting is indistinguishable from actual human handwriting. Robotic hands can produce 23 handwriting styles.

Alternatively, users can upload their own handwriting and signature for a truly personalized style. That option comes with a one-time fee.

Either way, users can choose from over 100 card designs or design their own online. Delivery can include business cards or gift cards from more than 20 popular brands, including Starbucks, Home Depot, Amazon and Visa, which can further foster relationships with customers.

handwritten bulk order production

For bulk letter orders, each copy is copied in original, not photocopied from a robot-printed initial letter. (image credit: handwritten)

“Handwriten is the largest and longest running service of its kind. We allow people to visit our website, or use our app integration, and choose a card or design their own. They Also choose a handwriting style and type a message. We then convert the message to handwriting style,” Watches told CRM Buyer.

keeping it real

The company is making several improvements to the robot’s hands to make writing more realistic. The new version of the web app will provide better usability and more features.

Some of the “tricks” built into robotic mechanisms to defy creation by mechanical hands include:

  • Randomly use up to 10 copies of each letter in both uppercase and lowercase forms in a note to ensure sufficient variation;
  • Capturing unique ligature combinations of handwriting styles (or fonts), such as adding two O’s next to each other, two T’s, or T and H, or O and F;
  • Varying the spacing between lines and subtly randomizing this interline spacing, as well as separating the left margin and ensuring that each line starts at a different space, creates more organic-looking writing.

The company is working on fixing its main remaining complaint: straightening out the words. Its updated handwriting engine now twists each line of text to create an even more organic effect.

behind the scenes

When I first discovered the Handwrytten service, I planned to investigate it more as a potential commercial product review. That approach paved the way for more detailed discussions with the company’s driving force, David Wax.

The product reviewer part of me wanted to know more about how the robotic handwriting process allows the customer’s initial typed correspondence to “is this real?” finished product.

Wach declined to reveal specifics about the transformation process. He admitted that he builds, programs and maintains his own robotic machinery for writing notes and mailing them in a large facility in Phoenix.

Primarily a tool for businesses, Handwrytten’s customer base ranges from Fortune 500 corporations to small retailers and consumers. According to Watch, there are currently over 85,000 customers using the platform.

The company has options for any budget. Pricing starts at $3.25 for sending a handwritten note, with discounts for bulk orders and subscriptions.

All of its cards are available without any contract. The company also offers subscription plans, bulk discounts and prepay options.

Watch also revealed that there are some limitations with the Handwrite app (available for Android and iOS). Apps do not allow user to upload list of contacts. Nor do they currently support signing. But those features are to come.

“Apps also don’t allow for the new prospecting tool, which allows the user to target a demographic or geographic area and blanket the area with handwritten notes,” he said. “The rest of the functionality is the same, though.”

Orders are stamped by first class mail and mailed from the factory. The US Postal Service delivers all mail to the continental US in three to four days. The company also delivers in Canada, the UK and 190 other countries.

marketing tool benefits

As a marketing tool, Handwrytten Notes offers advantages over using in-office CRM software and in-house or commercial printing services. Perhaps most importantly, according to Watches, handwritten notes have a 300% higher open rate than print pieces.

Additionally, handwritten notes have a much higher chance of being considered surprising, while less risk of being considered annoying, he said.

When consumers do not feel appreciated by a brand, handwritten notes have statistically significant potential to improve brand perception and keep consumers coming back and buying more, Wach concluded.