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Protecting your privacy

Here are some tips for protecting your privacy online:

*Check sites like Spokeo, Intelius or U.S. Identify to see what information has been gathered about you through public sources. If you don't want all the information accessible, refer to the company's instructions on removing your name, and visit PrivacyChoice.org to see how to block online marketers from tracking your online activities.

*Don't do or post things online that you wouldn't do or say to someone in person.

*Be cautious about whom you befriend online.

*Think before posting photos on networking sites, and about whether you want to "tag" them with people's names. Your intent may be to keep them private, but they could eventually get into the hands of hackers or marketers.

*Set your Facebook privacy settings to Friends Only; recheck your privacy settings regularly, as defaults can change when Facebook introduces new features.

*Don't answer "get-to-know-you" question games on Facebook or elsewhere; your answers can provide fodder for database marketers, and you don't know how they ultimately will be used.

*Learn to use the privacy settings on your Internet browser.

*Use different passwords for your financial transactions and your social networking sites.

*Familiarize yourself with resources like PrivacyChoice.org, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org); and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm; click on "ID Theft, Privacy & Security).

-- McClatchy Newspapers

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