Is ChatGPT Safe? What You Need to Know About Its Data Harvesting

ChatGPT is an AI tool that offers an infinite number of applications, but what are its pitfalls, and what should you know to use this tool safely?
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ChatGPT has already made waves, as some tout it as the end of jobs for a variety of people. However, artificial intelligence (AI) has practical applications for everyday life.

You could ask it to suggest a recipe using the ingredients you have on hand or to clean up your resume to match the job you really want. Doctors are already using AI for more in-depth cancer screenings that can detect issues sooner than established practices. The advancements are seemingly limitless.

But there are always potential risks when new technology emerges. Cybercriminals can use the same advanced machine learning to create more sophisticated malware. Hackers have the ability to use ChatGPT to sort aggregated stolen data into a profitable profile of you for identity theft and scamming purposes.

There’s nothing wrong with using ChatGPT for everyday purposes, but it’s good to know the cons as well as the pros. We’ve done some digging and given you an overview of ChatGPT and what to be aware of when using it, as well as how to keep your data safe with online security software.

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In this article
5 ChatGPT risks to look out for
Does ChatGPT collect data?
How to remove your ChatGPT data
How to safely use ChatGPT
Best cybersecurity software for staying safe on ChatGPT
Is ChatGPT safe? FAQs
Bottom line

5 ChatGPT risks to look out for

People are really good at creating tools they think will advance the human race. The human race is really good at corrupting those tools to cheat, steal, manipulate, or just for the fun of tricking others.

But what about you? You’re just here for a good time and to use a tool that can help you write better SEO-focused content or pick the perfect hashtag for your next social media post. That’s why you need to be informed about all the ways the use of ChatGPT requires data protection.

AI-powered phishing scams

AI-powered phishing scams are more malicious than standard phishing due to the level of personalization that can be achieved.

A phishing scam is usually released en masse to see what audiences it can hook — hence the name. AI-powered attacks can act more like spear phishing — targeted and precise.

Sensitive data already in the wild is harvested by hackers and fed into AI to create convincing and personalized phishing attempts, making it harder to spot phishing scams.

Because of the level of sophistication of these phishing emails, using caution and common sense practices is even more necessary. A good rule to abide by is to double-check the source and then respond only via the verified website.

For instance, if the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says your package needs additional information to be delivered, don’t click the link provided in the email. Rather, go to and log in from there. If the request is valid, there should be a message or alert waiting for you.

AI-powered malware

Just as ChatGPT can take your resume and tailor it to a job description, hackers can use AI to create new forms of polymorphic malware. That means it’s sophisticated enough to change its behavior to avoid detection.

Malware samples captured in the wild are shared and categorized to help anti-malware software recognize and block it. When malware becomes polymorphic, each new strain needs to be identified and categorized. Just like your yearly flu shot is different based on what strains are prevalent, malware categorization changes with the virus mutations as well.

It’s not a perfect piece of malicious software, but it is more sophisticated than its predecessors.

Inaccurate info

One of the biggest criticisms from ChatGPT’s early adopters was the misinformation in many of its answers.

Ask it for a recipe, and you’ll likely get a good one. Ask it for current events, and you may get something from three years ago. Ask it to verify something for you, and you can get a random answer full of aggregated data that’s wildly inaccurate.

Facts and truth are important, that’s why Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, completed an analysis in August 2023 that showed ChatGPT’s accuracy had actually gotten worse over a three-month testing period.[1] Make sure you always double-check your facts before using potentially fake news.

Malicious ChatGPT apps and plugins

ChatGPT itself is not malicious but there are, however, malicious apps and plugins out there claiming to be ChatGPT.

If you accidentally download and install one of these malicious platforms, a good antivirus and anti-malware can keep the hackers from installing malware on your machine. To avoid installing these fake apps and extensions, make sure you’re only using ChatGPT from OpenAI’s website or from a verified source.

Data privacy issues

AI was riddled with copyright infringement, ethical debates, plagiarism, vulnerabilities, and data privacy concerns almost as soon as it was released. If AI is learning from our interactions with it, then it’s storing all that data somewhere. That poses security risks.

Data is like hacker catnip because it can be sold. There’s always the concern that one of these AI companies will succumb to a data breach and give up swaths of data as a result.

If you do want to use ChatGPT, follow our lead and register for an account with a masked email. We used Apple’s Hide My Email feature to create our account, which cannot be tied back to us in a data breach.

Does ChatGPT collect data?

Yes, ChatGPT collects a lot of data. The entire premise of the large language model (LLM) software is built on reading and analyzing billions of data points for the purpose of machine learning.

ChatGPT logs your data, including your IP address, browser type, settings, as well as literally everything you input into the service. Additionally, it logs your usage data like location, local time, and even the information about the device you’re using. On top of all that, it collects cookies.

As GPT-4, the newest version of the software, evolves, it will need even more data points. This is where cybersecurity tools like a virtual private network (VPN), ad and tracker blockers, and identity theft protection services come into play.

Whether it’s Zoom gathering AI data to train its AI tool or Bing web crawling to teach its search to be more sophisticated, AI learns through data collection. Helping to encrypt your data can help you reclaim some of your autonomy online.

How to remove your ChatGPT data

By default, OpenAI, ChatGPT’s creator, saves your conversations to provide you with a more cohesive experience and to continue to add to its training data. Removing your info from the AI training model might be more difficult than just a simple deletion request, but with a little diligence, you should be able to clear out most of what ChatGPT has stored on you.

If you decide to toggle off the chat history, you can recover it at any time. If you decide to delete your account completely, you won’t be able to recover your user data.

How to remove your ChatGPT data using the web app

  1. Login on ChatGPT’s website.
  2. In the lower left side of the window, click on your profile (email address).
  3. Click on Settings.
  4. Click on Data controls.
  5. Toggle off the control by Chat history & training, or…
  6. To fully delete your account, click the delete button beside Delete account.

You can delete your ChatGPT data in the web app by clicking your profile (email address) and opening Data controls in the Settings.

How to remove your ChatGPT data using the mobile app

  1. Open your ChatGPT app.
  2. In the upper right corner, click the three dots.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data Controls.
  5. You can then toggle off Chat history & training, or…
  6. You can Clear chat history, or…
  7. You can Delete account.

In your ChatGPT mobile app, click the three dots in the top right corner to open your Settings menu.

Once in the Data Controls settings in your ChatGPT mobile app, tap Clear Chat History and toggle off Chat history and training.

How to remove ChatGPT data without logging in

  1. Go to the OpenAI Privacy Request Portal.
  2. Click “Make a Privacy Request” in the top right.
  3. You should see a pop-up with two options: Do not train on my content and Delete my data.
  4. Choose Do not train on my content to prevent ChatGPT from using future conversations for its training. You’ll then be prompted to enter your email address.
  5. Click Send Email and OpenAI automatically sends your request. You should then receive an email response with a link to verify your identity and begin opting out of ChatGPT using your data for training.
  6. To delete your data, choose Delete my data and enter your email address.
  7. Click Send Email and you’ll then receive an email with a link to verify your information and start the deletion process.
  8. Follow up in 7-14 days if you haven’t heard back.

How to safely use ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a great tool with endless applications. It’s important, though, to make sure you’re protecting yourself from some of the potential pitfalls that come with emerging technologies like AI integration.

If you use good internet safety techniques, like turning on a VPN and keeping your antivirus up to date, you can reduce the chance of becoming a victim of data and possibly identity theft. At the very least, you’ll have more control over how you keep your data private online.

Best cybersecurity software for staying safe on ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a piece of AI software that’s intended to grow and learn to become helpful and seamless in your quest for knowledge. AI is expanding rapidly, and we don’t know the full ramifications of its widespread use.

Your best bet for staying safe while using it is to employ a variety of security methods to make sure your data stays encrypted and secure. We’ve included some of the best cybersecurity software available to help protect you online.

  • NordPass: Strong passwords are a cornerstone of cybersecurity. NordPass helps you create and store strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. Reusing passwords, like the one you may have protecting your OpenAI account, could result in shared private data being exposed in a potential ChatGPT hack. Additionally, NordPass automatically scans the web for data breaches, so you have a chance to protect your data before it's misused. It’s one of the best password managers around.

    Get NordPass | Read Our NordPass Review
  • TotalAV: TotalAV is an award-winning antivirus product that protects against malware, offers a VPN, and also offers an ad blocker. If you’re typing sensitive information into a chatbot like ChatGPT, you don’t want other apps and sites logging your conversation. Using additional security software can help keep your data private.

    Get TotalAV | Read our TotalAV Review
  • NordVPN: If your last question to ChatGPT was about what’s the best Japanese anime to watch for newbies, then NordVPN can help you get around geo-restrictions and unblock streaming. While that’s a lot of fun, NordVPN also encrypts your traffic. AI has the potential to extract a lot of data about us, so keeping your conversations private is key. Since Nord offers a robust collection of products, you can bundle this with NordPass and other Nord products for a useful security suite.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review
  • Incogni: If you’re worried about the data you already shared with ChatGPT being used to target you, a service like Incogni by Surfshark can help. It locates data brokers who store your personal information in an aggregated database collected from around the web. Incogni helps you request the deletion of your data and maintain those requests on a regular basis. Spam? We don’t know her.

    Get Incogni | Read Our Incogni Review
  • Aura: In the battle of the AI, Aura is on the side of safety. Not only does it offer identity theft protection, but you’ll also get cloud storage, spam call and message filters, and child protection technology. If someone is able to gather your data from ChatGPT, Aura has ways to take back control.

    Get Aura | Read Our Aura Review

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Is ChatGPT safe? FAQs


Is it safe to give ChatGPT your phone number?

Giving your phone number to OpenAI is just as safe as providing it to sign up for any other service.

We would suggest, however, not typing your identifying information, like your phone number, into ChatGPT, as that data is stored and used for machine learning purposes. Who knows if the system will glitch and your number will suddenly be included in someone else’s search results?[2]


Is ChatGPT a scam?

No, ChatGPT is not a scam, although there are ChatGPT-related scams. Scammers and hackers target businesses and individuals and create fake, ChatGPT-cloned sites that ask you for your personal credentials, financial information, and other personal data to access your accounts. Remember that the real ChatGPT is through the parent company, OpenAI, and won’t ask you to provide sensitive information.


What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an advanced AI chatbot with surprisingly nuanced, conversational answers. It is a “sibling model to InstructGPT,” which is a trained instructional model. At its core, it's a chatbot that converses in a human-like manner.

It does have some truly interesting capabilities. For instance, you can copy and paste your resume into the chat box, then copy and paste a job description into the chat box, and ask ChatGPT to restructure your resume for the job. It can even write a cover letter specific to the job description. As it continues to learn, it will get better over time.


Does ChatGPT take information from your computer?

Yes, ChatGPT collects information from any device you use to access it, including your IP address and device specifics, as well as geographic location, time of access, and other information.

If you choose to use ChatGPT, you may want to consider also using a VPN, security software, anti-trackers, and an ad blocker to reduce the amount of information ChatGPT is able to receive.

Bottom line

ChatGPT is a useful tool, and it will continue to advance as it continues to learn. The ethical dilemma is whether or not it should be collecting our data for its learning.

You have to be cognizant of how much of your information it’s collecting if you want to use it. We’re not necessarily advocating against ChatGPT. This year alone, we helped three of our friend’s moms rewrite their resumes with it to find better jobs.

Our biggest concern is that you know what you’re getting into before you offer up all that data. Make sure you’re using security software and a reputable VPN for increased security, and delete your ChatGPT history after each session. It may not be as convenient as leaving it all there, but it’s a worthwhile compromise for protecting your information.

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Author Details
Mary is a seasoned cybersecurity writer with over seven years of experience. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University, she educates audiences on scams, antivirus software, and more. Her passion lies in educating audiences on helpful ways to protect their data.


[1] How Is ChatGPT’s Behavior Changing Over Time?

[2] ChatGPT Bug Temporarily Exposes AI Chat Histories to Other Users