As we go about our regular online shopping routines, we casually leave our most important personal details in the hands of strangers. This behaviour seems incredible when you stop and think about it – you wouldn’t just give your credit card details to someone you’d just met, would you?
Well, that is what millions of us are doing every day. Worse, many people even grant permission for companies to retain their personal and payment data, only because it will save them a couple of minutes when they make their next purchase.
The type of data we refer to is personal and financial data such as name, billing address, email address, etc. Of course, it is handy not to have to complete this information every time you make a purchase. But at what cost?
Agreeing to your data being stored, often also means that you’ve inadvertently agreed to it being passed on to third-party suppliers. So, stand by for a lifetime of spam offers and advertising! Also, how do you know that your data will be stored correctly – because they said so in their T&Cs? This assumption was probably the initial reckoning, too, of the 209,000 Equifax customers that had their data stolen in 2017. The truth is, there are considerable risks with letting your personal data get stored online. So, how can you get it back?
Getting Your Personal Data Back
GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) came into effect in May 2018. It essentially means that you can now review any personal data that a firm has on you and request that data be deleted.
This type of request is referred to as a SAR (Subject Access Request), and it can be a time-consuming process. To submit a request, you need to email the relevant person at each firm and request that your personal data is removed.
To remove some of the hassle involved with this process, there is a free online service called Mine. Mine scans your email inbox without reading the contents, to identify companies that may be holding your personal data. You can then send automated emails to these companies, asking for your details to be removed.
Using Mine allows you to discover who is holding your data. These companies could be e-commerce sites, old memberships, former suppliers, etc. It is incredibly simple to request your details to be removed, click on the Reclaim button. Once you’ve submitted a request, it has to be answered within thirty days. It is your responsibility to chase companies up that fail to respond, and Mine does not do this for you.
Data that has been sold to third-parties cannot be reclaimed as they legitimately bought the data. However, you can make a start in regaining some control of your information.