How to Opt Out of Data Broker Sites

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Faces in the center of data stream

Finding out how where and how to remove yourself from the big data broker sites can be tedious. This list of opt-out guides has directions and links to opt-out of most major data broker sites.

Data brokers collect an astonishing amount of information about people. If you're in the USA and visited My Life or Pipl you might be surprised by how much data they've collected about you, even if you aren't on the internet and never have been.

Data brokers collect information about you, usually personally identifiable information. They then sell that data to any one of several types of entities; other data brokers, companies that collect personal data for targeted advertising or other purposes, and individuals. None of these data brokers have a direct relationship with us, the consumers, and most people aren't aware of the type and amount of data that's being collected. To learn more about data brokers, what kinds of information they collect and what they do with it check this Privacy Rights Clearinghouse article: "Data Brokers and "People Search Sites".

Most (but not all) data brokers have some way to opt-out - to have your information removed from their site(s). It can be relatively easy (submitting a request via email) or difficult, (sending a copy of your ID card or license by postal mail to the company). Since many data brokers rely on publicly available records, your information can reappear after you've opted out of a site.

Delete Me has an Opt-out guide with a thorough, current list of the largest data brokers and how to opt out of their service. There are specific directions for each site, how hard it is, how long it takes, or whether you can opt out  at all. The good news is that opting out of some of larger services also opts you out of other data broker services a site may own. For example, opting out of Whitepages.com also opts you out of  411.com, Address.com, Anywho.com, DexKnows.com, PhoneNumber.com, WhoWhere.com, and YellowPages.com making the process a little less tedious.

There are services that will remove your information for a fee, and Delete Me is one of them. They promote their service on the opt-out guides, but you can do it yourself. It takes quite a bit of time and effort, and since personal data can reappear, you may have to do it more than once on some sites. Be prepared to to identify images in a seemingly endless parade of CAPTCHA's to prove you're a human. If your on a Delete Me opt out guide review page, you may hear a little tinkling bell sound. It's associated with a bell icon that pops up in the lower right corner of your screen. Clicking the bell prompts you to remember that Delete Me has an information removal service. Not all removal services cover the same companies, something to consider if you decide to go that route.

If you're in the EU, you can use a similar service to opt out of the top data brokers: Opt Out of Top Data Brokers. The links open an email in your email client or service that includes a GDPR Erasure Request, just fill in the subject and personal information then send the email.

Full List of Data Broker Opt-Out Guides: how to opt-out of the internet

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Comments

Personally, I'm not that concerned with my data being out there. It would take far too much time and effort to prevent my data from being collected. Basically I'd probably have to quit using the Internet ... which I refuse to do. But I do object and object strongly when one of these data pigs begins to harass me and then refuse to remove my data ... like MyLife did for many months. I finally sent them a long email threatening in detail how I'd take them to court in my state and sue them for invasion of privacy, harassment and other assorted charges, noting that Arizona loves to chop down data hogs with huge awards. At that point they removed all my data and I've not heard from them since.

Whether you want to limit the information on you that's available or aren't concerned with your data available is a personal choice for most of us.
For some of us, having the data available for anyone who wants to pay for it can have a high price. Women are often at risk in cases of domestic violence and stalking (though it's not limited to gender). Having your current personal information (which often contains information about family and friends) available for sale to anyone who wants to pay for it has very real consequences.

Some or most of these companies have policies in place for these types of situations - and you still have to contact each of the data brokers and request your data be removed. That presumes you know your personal data is being collected, can identify which data brokers are collecting it, know how to contact them, and have the time to request removal from all of them.
Having requested removal of my data from several of these services in the course of researching this article I'm having nightmares of the endless CAPTCHA's that would appear trying to remove myself from all of them.

I know someone who has never had a computer, has never been on the internet, and doesn't have a data plan with their cell phone. They exist in public records, and there's a ton of information about them and their family and probable acquaintances on the internet (I checked). I'm just saying that not using the internet will not stop your personal information from being collected. :)

I don't know, maybe I'm just paranoid, but these 'deleteme' type sites that charge you $100 and up to delete your information on all other sites that may have your data ... they remind me of the old senior scams that conned old people who'd been conned by other companies by promising to get their money back for them. That con ripped off billions till the Feds shut them down a while back.

I understand your point. It's possible that some of the services are on the shady side, but they wouldn't last long, and in this field, trust is everything if you want to stay in business. There may be some fly by nights that come and go, but overall the larger services are interested in staying in business and most seem to take security and personal data seriously.

I haven't checked thoroughly just yet, but I believe that joindeleteme and deleteme are the same company - that would be Abine. They've been around a long time, I would trust them with my data and to handle keeping up with data reappearances if I went the paid route. I don't mind doing it on my own, and have been doing so a few years. I rarely see my name come up in most data broker sites when I check back. FamilyTreeNow has deleted and then published my data a twice so far, I keep an eye on them.
Abine has developed one of my favorite add-ons, Blur, which provides masked address to sites that want an email address. It stores them in your account so you can reuse them again and keep track of what any given masked address was used for.

They also provide a service that generates temporary, one time use credit card numbers for the dollar amount you specify that can be used anywhere so your credit/debit card data isn't used at a site.
I don't have a need for any of their premium services, so I stay with their free service.

Yes, they store your credit card data, so does privacy.com, which also provides single use credit card numbers.

I'm familiar with the privacy.com people from some years ago, when they first started talking about creating privacy.com.
I trust both services with my data. That said, they've been vetted by people who know much more than I do whose judgement I trust implicitly - they've gotten thumbs up and use both services.

I encourage anyone to perform due diligence before making any choices or decisions when handing over critical personal data - by that I mean critical financial data as that has the largest impact if it's breached.
Don't take my word for it, check out any service you might consider using so you have first hand, current information.

Speaking of breaches, I keep wondering where the data from the Equifax breach is. To my knowledge it hasn't surfaced anywhere, which is unusual. It's one of those things I wonder about on a regular basis. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯