Hidden trackers invade your browser — how to delete them

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As long as your phone is on, data will be shared. This happens regardless of whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, but one company tracks a lot more than the other. Tap or click here to see if Apple or Google is collecting additional data.

I bet your home address, phone number and even more personal information is just a search away and available to everyone, often for free. I value my privacy, so my team and I have put together a great resource to help you. Tap or click here for steps to get yourself away from 19 of the biggest people search sites.

Advertisers are notorious for watching what you do and where you go online. This is valuable and very profitable information. Here’s a way to stop some of the espionage.

Hacker attacks the internet

Hacker attacks the internet
(iStock)

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The bad kind of cookies

Think of cookies as the trail you leave behind when you’re online. A first-party cookie is created and stored on your browser when you visit a website. It saves things like your login information and shopping cart so you don’t have to fill them out every time. First-party cookies also save options and settings.

This is useful, but cookies can also be invasive. Businesses use cookies to track where you go and what you do online. They even do it on a different website than the one you are currently visiting. Advertisers love cookies because they help customize the ads you see. If the ads appeal to you, you’re more likely to click on them, resulting in a higher ROI.

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Pro tip: You can block third-party cookies and other invasive tools through your browser. The level of protection varies, but it’s worth changing your default settings. Tap or click here for tips on changing your privacy settings in some of the most popular browsers.

Blocking cookies and third-party tracking is one thing, but how about not being subject to tracking methods for the time being? This is where AdChoices and WebChoices come into play.

Ban tracking cookies from your browser

AdChoices is a program of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a group of self-regulating advertising and marketing companies, to provide you with choices about targeted advertising. Why should they regulate themselves? So, of course, no one else intervenes.

Give it a try the next time you see an ad online. Look for the small AdChoices icon. It looks like a blue triangle with a small “i” in the middle.

Click on it to get information about the ad, change its settings and block it. Not all advertisers participate in the program, but you’ll recognize it when you see the icon.

Go further: Get rid of that secret ID hiding on your phone and revealing your personal information

Within AdChoices there is a tool called WebChoices. This tool allows you to unsubscribe from many companies in one step. Like AdChoices, it only works for companies that participate in the program.

Get this: I used it to kick out 144 different tracking cookies!

Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.

Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.
(iStock)

How to use Web Choices:

Go to https://optout.aboutads.info. WebChoices scans your browser and computer to determine if first-party and third-party cookies are enabled, along with a list of companies that serve you targeted ads. You’ll also see which companies you’ve already opted out of if you’ve used the tool.

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After the status check is complete, click Continue.

Look at them Customize ads in your browser Column to see which companies are using targeted ads. When it says Yesyou can opt out of this company by checking the box below Reject Pillar.

Or you can select everything by clicking Reject all.

After making your selection, click Submit your selection. (You can skip these steps by clicking Reject all as a first step.)

The website processes your selection and you click on it View updated results to see how it turned out.

The WebChoices tool works for the browser you are currently using, so run it for each browser if you use more than one browser. If you didn’t get all the companies the first time, try running the scan again.

If you clear cookies, you may not see the company’s opt-out options, so run the scan from time to time.

A lock icon, indicating an encrypted internet connection, can be seen in a photo illustration in an Internet Explorer browser.

A lock icon, indicating an encrypted internet connection, can be seen in a photo illustration in an Internet Explorer browser.
(REUTERS/Mal Langsdon)

ARE HACKERS IN YOUR PHONE? FIND OUT HERE

Keep your technical knowledge up to date

My favorite podcast is called “Kim Komando today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. Just click the link below for an up-to-date episode.

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In this episode, Google updates photos with redesigned memories and a new collage editor, uses your photos for a virtual clothing fitting at Walmart, Keurig’s new smart brewer makes an incredible amount of coffee, and how to get your real signature on digital documents. Also, a rescue helicopter nearly abandoned a stranded man because he mistook his 911 call.

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Find my Kim Komando Today podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Just search for my last name “Komando”.

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Learn more about the latest technology at The Kim Commando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and shares advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets Online privacy and data hacks.

For her daily tips, free newsletter and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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