Earlier this week, we were talking about how some ads seem to just follow you all over the Internet?  That’s because service providers like Google, Amazon, and Facebook track your behavior and target ads to you based on who they think you are. But they aren’t the only companies targeting you with ads.

There’s a great and free online tool from the Digitial Advertising Alliance that will show you which advertising companies are targeting you for ads and allow you to opt-out of seeing ads from participating services. Remember, this only opts you out of being targeted with ads from the 134 ad-servicing companies that choose to participate.

This also doesn’t mean you won’t see ads. You just won’t see ads based on your behavior. This also doesn’t stop companies from collecting your information. For some folks, it’s just an overall privacy issue. For others, it can protect you from prying eyes. A savvy web surfer could sit down at your PC to use the browser and notice lots of ads relating to a particular medical condition and conclude that you have it. Or your roomie might see lots of ads relating to apartment listing and conclude that you’ve been thinking about moving out before you’ve made a decision.

Start by clicking here to go to the WebChoices page.

The first thing you’ll see is the site checking your browser to see if it’s compatible with the service.

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Then it will start checking the number of IBA (Internet-Based Advertising) cookie requests that various ad services have made to your browser.

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When the check is complete, this window will pop up. It explains how to use the tool and also how targeted advertising helps support many free sites and services that you probably enjoy using.

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You’ll then see a list of participating companies. You’ll probably be surprised to see companies track consumer behavior.

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Look in the Customizing Ads on your Browser column to see if a particular company is targeting ads to you in the browser you’re using.

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Click the + sign next to the name of the company to find out about the company and what technology they are using in your browser to collect information.

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You can then choose to opt-out of receiving personalized ads from the chosen service by ticking the opt-out box. Remember, this won’t prevent you from seeing ads or your information from being collected. Participating companies just won’t use it to target ads to you.   If you’ve already opted out of advertising from a company, there will already be a check there.

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You can also choose to Opt-out of all. Make sure to hit the Submit button when you’re done.

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If you use multiple browsers, you’ll want to visit this site in each of them to make your choices.  You may also have to make these selections separately on mobile and desktop versions of your browser.

This service uses cookies to make your opt-out preferences known. So, if your browser completely blocks cookies, your opt-out preferences might not take.  If you reset your browser, you’ll need to reset your preferences.