It is very frustrating to realize that data aggregators collect more personal information about all of us than we know. What’s equally frustrating is trying to figure out what, if anything, can be done to minimize the exposure individuals have since data aggregators are not transparent about the ways in which these troves of personal information are used and to whom they are sold or with whom they are shared.

That situation makes Fahmida Y. Rashid’s recent article on this very issue so valuable. Ms. Rashid is a Senior Writer for InfoWorld and she’s written an article outlining the time-consuming steps that consumers will have to take to try and reduce, if not totally eliminate, their data held by data aggregators (“How to scrub your private data from ‘people finder’ sites; February 23; http://www.csoonline.com/article/3173231/security/how-to-scrub-your-private-data-from-people-finder-sites.htm).

As Ms. Rahshid explains, data aggregators will say that they are collecting this information for such neutral or positive purposes as background checks. However, as she notes, these volumes of personal data present rich opportunities for identity theft, stalking and other negative purposes. She then provides a great service of laying out the steps that are entailed and the kinds of personal information and documents that someone will need to have assembled prior to beginning the opt-out process.

As Ms. Rahshid writes, these processes require patience and advance planning because they are multi-stepped. Consumers who might be interested in starting the opt-out process should read her article to gain a full understanding of what doing so will entail. Suffice it to say, the data aggregators don’t make it easy.