A reader emailed me the other day, asking me to remove all of their information from Ashley Madison, a dating site intended for married folks, or those already in relationships looking to cheat on their partner. This sort of question comes up all the time, I'm assuming because by reviewing a dating site, folks perhaps assume in turn that I work for the company. I should also note that this specific reader was really upset, as he says he's had zero contact with the site, fears perhaps his identity was stolen, and that it could easily destroy his marriage.
Because I get this question so often, let's break it down, bit by bit, and talk about what might have happened, and what you can do about it.
First off, know that some companies use your internet viewing habits to track what you're up to online, and then offer advertising that matches said websites. So, if you were watching pornography for instance, you may get ads for infidelity dating sites popping up after. In one somewhat recent case, a married woman was on Facebook, and her husband's picture popped up as a potential suitor for a dating site in an ad along the side of the page. Was the guy on the dating site? No. However he'd allowed Facebook to use his photo in advertising, and for whatever reason, Facebook thought this woman wanted information about dating sites. To my understanding this kind of practice stopped as soon as the complaint was very publicly made. Still, it's something to think about, especially since you chose to keep the details of why you believe you've got a fake profile on the site.
Next, if you know for a fact you've yet to visit Ashley Madison, and still your picture and personal details show up (or you're getting text messages, credit card statements showing you've paid, etc.), it's time to get the authorities involved. Speak with your cell phone provider, credit card company and local police, and file a report. Identity theft is very serious business, and you need to get right on that.
After that's all taken care of, get a copy of the report, and ask Ashley Madison how to send it to them. (Best place to start is at their Contact Us page). They'll let you know what your next steps are, and how to get your information removed as soon as possible.