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Can You Be Tracked Down Just by Your IP Address?

It's probably the number one concern most of us have about our IP address: Can somebody track me down just by knowing my IP address? After all, the IP address that first pops up whenever you go to "WhatIsMyIPAddress.com" is actually linked directly to the computer you're using.

With privacy and spying so much in the news, it's no wonder so many of us are asking that question.

So what is the answer? It varies, depending on a lot of circumstances, but in general, the answer to the big question is...probably not.

In other words, the most information that the average curious person can find out about you with only your IP address (and nothing else) is what region, city and town you are in when you're on the Internet. They won't know anything about you (such as your name, etc.) or the computer you're using.

And actually, what they'll find out isn't really about YOU, more than it is about your online connection. That is, it doesn't know WHO is using a certain IP address—they can only find out, in general, where that computer is.

Go to our Home Page right now and you'll see what your IP address says about your location, in real time (meaning "right now").

If you're in your home or apartment, it might show a location several miles away, or even 25 miles away.

But if you're in a coffee shop or airport, it won't show your home address—it will show the general area of your location. And again, these "geo-locaters" can only guess at where you are while you're linked to some network that is linked to the Internet.

But can you be tracked?

However, if an online computer user were doing something illegal (according to the laws in place), an agency might seek legal permission to contact the Internet Service Provider for information. With a subpoena in hand, they could ask the ISP to provide the online account holder's name and address. (Again, that would identify the person who pays the Internet service monthly bill, but not every individual who might have access to that account.)

But for 99% of us, that's an extreme case.

Staying safe online.

You have to admit one thing, though—it is a little unnerving to realize that someone who has your IP address (or captured it at one time) has a pretty good idea of the region or city you live in. It can feel somewhat intrusive.

But keep in mind that it's not as if our names and addresses are listed in some public Internet phone book that's handed out.

In fact, the Internet is very anonymous in many ways. Most of the time, you give away your identity by establishing relationships, business and personal, online.

So, if you don't want someone zeroing in on your IP address, make it a habit not to be so quick to give up your name and address online, especially to people or companies you don't know very well.

Most people on the Internet are fair and honest, but there are plenty of others who aren't. Be smart online, just the way you are (we hope) in everyday life. Don't trust anybody with personal information until you know them well enough to trust them.

Try using this tool to look up your IP address.

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