• Protecting your data from publicly available websites

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    PITTSBURGH - We know you or your family may be turning to DNA and ancestor websites to learn more about your family history, but we found a website that is taking that trend and possibly putting you in danger.

    It's called familytreenow.com. Right at the top, it touts "billions of historical records", for free, with no restrictions, We sat down with a local viewer who wanted to test it out with us.

    "I thought I would find simple information, maybe a white pages type ordeal, where you would find maybe a redacted first or last name," said Fred Quinn of Pittsburgh.


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    Those historical records are actually every address you've ever lived at, every phone number you've ever had and the same for your parents, grandparents and siblings.

    "I was taken aback," said Quinn after putting in his own name.

    We asked Channel 11's consumer advisor what he thought about the site. He said anyone could compile information online right now, but the problem with this site is it puts all that information in one place, for free.

    "Your information is so available," said consumer advisor Clark Howard. "It's so easy for someone to seize your personal information and then create an identity mimicking yours."

    Channel 11 figured out how to remove your own information from the website.

    1. Scroll all the way to the bottom, then click "privacy."
    2. Select "For opt out requests, click here."
    3. Click the green button to begin.
    4. Search for your name and information.
    5. When you come up, click the red "opt out" button.

    It will say it may take 48 hours to work, but in every case we tried, it happened instantly.

    These websites are perfectly legal in the United States, but privacy experts we spoke to believe Europe has the right idea. They have a law called the "right to be forgotten". As long as you're not a public figure, you can petition to have all of your personal information wiped from the internet.

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