Many people use search engines to find restaurants in unfamiliar cities when on vacation, to settle pointless debates between family members, and find particular users on social media using their in-platform engines. Unfortunately, Internet users of all kinds can perform several simple searches to find potentially career-damaging information about people of interest. Even though most people highly value their privacy online, not everybody actively safeguards it. Here are several means that “detectives” use in covering up dirt online.

Finding Someone Posing as Another Person

We’ve all heard of catfish, or people who impersonate others using social media accounts. If someone impersonates another and uses a phone number, email, or address that can be used to trace identity back to the impostor, they may face scrutiny from friends, family members, peers, and strangers for years to come, arguably getting what they deserve for wrongfully prying into others’ lives without damaging one’s own reputation.

Background Checks Are Widely Available

Traditionally, only employers or parties involved with the legal system regularly pulled criminal history information on people they’re interested in. Times have changed, with practically anybody having the ability to find anyone with or similar providers of government-released background checks. Many police agencies make money from releasing arrest information about people who get arrested. While publishing this information online isn’t at all illegal, it’s certainly something to worry about for anyone who’s ever been arrested, no matter the seriousness of the charge.

Private Social Media Accounts Sometimes Reveal Damaging Information

Some people with social media pages prefer to capture videos or pictures of themselves doing something illegal, like smoking marijuana or otherwise abusing drugs, or dangerous, like street racing on open, populated roadways. To keep this potentially damaging information to one’s self, many users make their pages private, restricting who sees what, if anything at all.

Let’s say that 17-year-old Bob posts a video of him pouring himself liquor while smoking a marijuana cigarette, attesting to the camera of both drugs’ high potency. A friend of his screenshots a cap from the video and shares it on his page, even with Bob’s permission. Someone could search for Bob’s first or last name, account handle, or characteristics he possesses, like attending XYZ school or having ABC interests. If a parent or employer saw this screenshot, Bob would potentially be grounded, and certainly wouldn’t get the job – this problem rooted from posting inappropriate content to public domains in the first place, even though he assumed his privacy settings were sufficient.

Privacy is a major concern among Internet users. Oddly enough, many people aware of privacy issues fail to cover their proverbial bases, popping the lid on their online security. Close friends and complete strangers can find dirt on one another all over the Internet, if they know where to look – be sure to cover your digital footprints when using the Internet, every single login.