Have I Been Sold is a new free and open source web service that helps you find out if your email address has been sold by companies in the past.
If you received spam in the past you probably wondered how the sender of the spam message got hold of your email address. There are plenty possibilities; you may have published your email address publicly, replied to emails, signed up for web services or an account may have been hacked that you communicated with.
Some companies sell data to brokers next to that and it is not always disclosed by those companies.
Note: The developer is involved with Diffbot.com which happens to be the "world's largest, most accurate database of people and companies". He stated that there is no affiliation between the two products, and that Have I Been Sold does not sell, distribute or share email addresses "with anyone for any reason".
Tip: We published a guide in 2016 to set up accounts to find out which companies or services sold your information.
Have I Been Sold is a new service that works similarly to the password leak checker Have I Been Pwned. You type or paste an email address in the form on the Have I Been Sold website and click on a button to find out if the email address is in any of the databases of the service.
The service returns to you if your email is found on a list that was sold. It appears that you get options to report the company that sold the data in first place but I could not verify that since none of the email addresses that I typed in to the form were on any of the sold listings.
You can request that email addresses that are found are removed from the service's database. You may also authorize the service to inform you if your email address is found in new databases of email addresses that the service acquires or gets its hands on.
The service lists five steps to protect email addresses from getting sold on the same page:
Have I Been Sold may be a useful service to some but it probably is not something that most Internet users may want to use.
The only value that you get out of it is if Have I Been Sold lists the company or service that sold your email address. I don't know whether that is the case, however.
The best way to go about it is to create unique email addresses for any service you sign up for. This works very well if you buy a domain name and either use the web hoster's email management dashboard to create emails, or use a service like Google Apps for that instead.
Now You: What's your take on services such as Have I Been Sold or Have I Been Pwned?
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.