As of recent, I wanted to get my free credit report. So, today I did a Google search for ‘Equifax’. I found all the information I needed, then shifted focus to something else – Mozilla’s Lightbeam add-on, which lets you see who you are connecting with on each website you go to. I went to Youtube to watch videos about Lightbeam and sure enough, there is an advertisement for Equifax. I had only been to the Equifax website today, just an hour or so before, and already the mysterious internet knew that I had some sort of interest in Equifax.
So, I decided to see who was responsible for putting that ad there. To do this, I clicked on the Lightbeam icon on the bottom right corner of Firefox browser and opened up the add-on.
In this picture, you can see I’ve visited only 40 websites today but have connected with 258 3rd party sites. This means lots of entities have tracked me.
This picture zooms in on the Equifax icon that I clicked on. It notes that I connected with 13 different sites since being on the Equifax site; you can also count 13 lines connected to the icon and read the sites’ names in the right column. Notice how some of those lines are purple, which means those connections leave cookies. Cookies are files that get loaded to your computer for tracking purposes. If you notice, there are at least 3 Google-related sites listed in the right column, which probably explains why the Equifax ad showed up on Youtube, a Google-affiliated website.
I am concerned because Equifax deals with personal information and requires you to type in that info on their site. With all this tracking going on that most people really don’t understand, you have to wonder who/what is tracking your personal info. I’m not trying to say anybody is being malicious, but it’s something to consider in a world where your own cyber-security is more important than ever before. If you would like to do the old-school credit report request via snail mail, you can download the form here.