Top ways to protect your online reputation

Company services help you avoid the “drunken pirate”

If you don’t like what you find or see about yourself on the Web there’s a growing community of companies that can expunge or at least water down the bad stuff and save your reputation -- for a price, of course.

The need for such services is exemplified in a recent story about a woman in Pennsylvania who is suing Millersville University, claiming that her teaching career was derailed by college administrators who unfairly disciplined her over a MySpace photo that shows her wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. The photo caption read: Drunken Pirate.

Everyone from prospective employers to your next date are looking you up online, so what can you do? Here's a list of companies that may be able to help out:

* A free service from TrustedID that lets you find out whether your Social Security or credit card numbers are among some 2.3 million compromised pieces of identification in its fraud identification database.

* ReputationDefender: Can help remove or bury negative or embarrassing Web postings. The company’s Web site says it will search out all information about you and/or your child on the Internet and present it to you in a clear report. It will also destroy all inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful and slanderous information about you and/or your child using our proprietary in-house methodology.

* Looks for unauthorized use of your Social Security number. MPI’s Web site says its premier product is the Public Information Profile, which obtains, aggregates and formats consumer background information not found in credit reports. Costs $79.95

* ClaimID: Offers a way to centrally manage all of your personal information in cyberspace. Its Web site says it will provide you with an OpenID which you can use to log into thousands of sites such as Livejournal, Ma.gnolia and Technorati -- without having to create a new account or remember another password. On your ClaimID page, you can create a profile of all the sites that comprise your identity and the company will let you know if an important page about you goes offline -- and if so, ClaimID will provide you a cache of the page so you never lose important materials.

* Naymz: An online provider of reputation/identity management and promotion services for people, groups and businesses. The company says it provides a simple and user friendly experience for those who are concerned with promoting an accurate and positive picture of their personal or professional reputation and identity.

* Uses information gleaned from to notify you when any or of your information appears in stolen credit data databases and online directories. It instantly notifies you by e-mail of any suspicious activity related to your personal information. The company promises its technology works much faster than the credit card and credit bureau monitoring services, which alert you after you become a victim. It charges $4.95 a month to monitor public records and for $6.95 a month, you get identity-theft insurance, which reimburses as much as $25,000 for purchases made using your information.

* ChoicePoint: Sells a consumer version of its more extensive background reports for prices ranging from $9.95 to $49.95. The premium-priced report includes a county and national criminal file search, and employment or education verification.

* LexisNexis: Offers its Accurint Person Report for $8, which compiles public and private database information under your name, including motor-vehicle registration information.

Learn more about this topic

Did her MySpace photo derail teacher’s career?Your online reputation precedes you


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