Someone is looking for you. The web is full of websites and services that provide your details to others, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee.
It’s an uncomfortable sensation to know that your personal data can be used to track you. While it is unlikely that those looking would intend you harm, it is useful to know who is looking for you, and what tools they’re using to do so.
We’re going to take a look at several ways in which you can find out who is looking for you online. It might be a potential employer, former lover or even a long lost relative; or it could be someone looking to target you for identity theft.
Either way, it’s time to turn the tables, discover who is tracking you down, and make the necessary arrangements in the event they are successful.
Let the hunted become the hunter!
Use Google Alerts
The first thing you should do to find out who is looking for you is to ensure that you have Google covered. It might be wholly narcissistic to some to have an alert setup for any mentions of you on the web, but this is genuinely the first step in playing it safe.
And anyway, who are you going to tell?
Sign into Google and open www.google.com/alerts. Here, enter your name in the alert box at the top of the page and click Create Alert. Use the Show Options link to expand the view, enabling you to set how often email alerts will arrive and where they should be delivered. You’ll see a preview of your alerts too, to give you an idea of how they will look.
Now, whenever Google spots your name on a website, news page, forum or blog post, it will send you an email alert!
Look For Social Mentions
Similar to Google Alerts, but focusing on social networks that might see mention of your name is Mention.com, a web-based alert system that also offers mobile apps for Android and iPhone, as well as apps for Windows 8 and Chrome.
Signup is free for the standard service, and Mention also offers a 14 day trial of the fully featured service, which doesn’t require any card details, so it is definitely worth checking out.
Once you sign up, sign in and create an alert. You can choose up to three conditions to the alert, as well as the preferred language. Click Next Step to proceed and select the sources you wish to use. These include blogs and forums along with Facebook and Twitter, and you can also filter sources you don’t wish to be used. As keeping track of who is looking at your profiles on these networks is more or less impossible, using an alert is the best alternative.
When you’re done, click Create My Alert and then Save. You also have the option to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Mention for faster alerts.
As your alert – no doubt your name! – is detected by Mention, the web interface or your Mention app will be updated so you can instantly find out what context your name has been used in. Is someone looking for you?
A LinkedIn.com profile is incredibly useful for finding a new job, whether you’re a freelancer, an expert in your field or if you’re simply looking to change career. However, a presence on LinkedIn means that you can be found…
Signing into the service will display a total of profile views for the current period. LinkedIn Premium members will see full details of those viewing them, whereas the standard free accounts will only display a handful.
If someone is using the service to track you down, there is a good chance that it is for work-related reasons. On the other hand, you might like to know just who is looking, and why. Using the LinkedIn Premium service is a good way to get a handle on this.
Could Long Lost Family Be Searching For You?
Mawkish reunions of long-lost family are ratings winners for TV networks, and are often responsible for people trying to track down distant (or close) relatives for a reunion after many years.
Various websites exist that can be used to track you and your family down under the auspices of family research. These adoption search sites (such as www.adopteeconnect.com) can be used to trace you, or your remote siblings. No adoption agency should allow contact with individuals without their consent; however, if you’re registered with one of these online services you should be aware that consent is given when you sign up.
Meanwhile, www.Ancestry.com has a huge database of living and dead people that could theoretically be used to track your current whereabouts down, at least in part. It is, of course, one of many excellent online tools for researching your family tree but like many of the tools we’ve mentioned here, it can be misused.
You can see if you have been added to other family trees in Ancestry (members will be alerted when they’re added to other trees), but unfortunately cannot tell if anyone has checked yours or your ancestor’s details.
Use Alerts, Stay Aware!
People are always looking for you. They might be fans, friends, relatives, debt collectors, potential employers; or they might be criminals.
There is no way for you to know, so the best thing to do is attempt to manage all interest in you. Use the alerts from Google and Mention, consider setting up a premium account with Linkedin and make use of any website you might have available to you already, to focus all contact attempts through. If you don’t have your own site, you might use one of the many free services that will host a modest homepage.
Have you been tracked down online? Do you wish to remain anonymous, or do you welcome contact from people looking for you? Let us know how you feel about it, and what you do to keep one step ahead.
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