There is a lot of information out there on the internet and your personal details are some of it. There are ways to take charge and have this information removed and Abine has a service that can do it for you. I have mentioned Abine before, specifically their browser plugin DoNotTrackMe which I definitely recommend to any Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer user. While doing some research on these types of plugins I saw another service on Abine’s website called DeleteMe. I had seen it before and never really paid attention to it but this time I thought let’s have a closer look at this service to see if this is something I would recommend to my readers. Turns out, it’s not.
Again, Abine’s DoNotTrackMe (DNTM) plugin is great and I recommend it. As the plugin is provided for free and they get revenue from services like DeleteMe you should consider a donation if you are a DNTM user. I was going to provide a link to a page where donations can be made but there doesn’t seem to be one so you’ll have to contact them directly. I mention this because I advise against the use of their DeleteMe service but since their DNTM is good and they need cash to stay in business, a donation would be fair and deserved.
What is DeleteMe
It’s a subscription service that removes your personal information from the largest people search databases on the web. You pay them and their advisers go to work for you, either one or two years depending on the subscription you purchase. DeleteMe removes:
• Your public profile from leading data sites
• Contact, personal and social information
• Photos of you, your family and your home
And for the duration of your subscription they do their best to make sure this information stays gone.
It does but their front page statement is a little misleading depending on how you read it. I’ve asked several people to read their “DeleteMe removes:” points and out of 15 people 14 thought this meant three different things. It doesn’t. It means that if any of those leading data sites also have contact, personal and social information aswel as photos of you, your family and your home, they will all be removed with a single opt-out request. It does not mean that apart from those leading data sites DeleteMe will scour the web looking for the rest of those things. Their service is limited to those leading data sites, nothing more and covers US residents and US data sites only.
Oh, well at least my information will be removed from those sites
Very true. This is what you pay them for. But starting at $129 for a one year subscription for one person you’d expect a lot more than a list of just 15 websites. 18 additional websites are listed too because they get their information from those first 15 sites, so when your info is removed from those 15 it should disappear from the other 18 as well. These sites are:
And by having your information removed from these sites they should also be removed from the following sites:
– Yahoo People Search
As you can see your information can be found on quite a lot of websites (not all of them), try a few and see for yourself. As these websites scrape the internet looking for information to display and sell it is just a matter of time before you start popping up on these websites again so keeping your info off these pages has to be done or at least checked on every few weeks or months.
So are you saying DeleteMe is overpriced as it’s just deleting my info from 15 websites?
I definitely feel the service is overpriced. I understand any company needs to make money to support development and pay employee salaries but starting at $129 is steep. Out of those 15 websites only “about half” is constantly monitored to see if your information reappears, the rest of the sites are checked every 3 months. When I started writing this article yesterday their site mentioned discounted prices starting at $99 and up to $269 which to me are already too high for the service. Today these discounted prices have been removed and the service now starts at $129 and up to $349 which is even more ridiculous in my book.
So I should find another, cheaper, service?
No, I’m recommending you do this yourself, for two reasons.
Price – See previous point. And of course doing this yourself doesn’t cost you a thing.
Awareness – You’ll become more aware as you see how many sites you’ve never heard of display your information for anyone to see. You’ll see sites that “found 3 arrest records” for you but if you’d pay to see them you would not find any arrest records linked to you as these are trick messages. Trick or not, these messages are also visible to others looking for your name, maybe an employer doing a casual background check. If you’ve never been arrested (and even if you have) you do not want this information online. Now that you are more aware, hopefully you’ll be more careful in the future when handing out your personal information. Think twice before signing up for anything online or at that little stand in front of the supermarket or mall. Do you really need ANOTHER website/blog/forum account? Probably not. And unless it is important, use a fake address and make up other fake user details. The vast majority of sign-ups that ask for address information will never need it or use it so none will care about the fake details, least of all you.
Just create a folder in your bookmarks, put all these sites in there, go through them all to remove your information and just visit them once in a while to see if your info is still gone.
Also do a search of your own name on a few different search engines to see what pops up. Startpage.com (recently discussed here) will fetch Google results for you and Ixquick.com will fetch you results from various other engines as well. If you find sites that have information on you that you do not want them to have (or show/sell to anyone) then opt-out if possible and add that site to your bookmarks folder. If you have worked or lived in other countries then add people search engine sites from that country to the list.
What if I do want to use DeleteMe?
By all means! If you really don’t have time (to spend a few minutes filling out an opt-out form) or if you are simply lazy then you can pay Abine to do it for you. Then pay them again next year, the year after and the year after that because like I said, your info will just keep popping up sooner or later. You can also purchase a subscription as a means of supporting the company and have all your information removed as an added bonus. If you do decide to purchase the service then at least visit some of the websites to see what information is out there and create that awareness I mentioned earlier.
It took me about 17 minutes to remove my information from 6 websites (23 total in my bookmarks), 9 did not have a record on me and the 8 remaining sites need additional information or try their best not to have you remove your info so they make it hard to do so. So less than 20 minutes to figure out who has my information and to make a small list of sites I need to follow up with. Some websites ask you to create an account so you can ‘manage your listing’, others will ask for ALL of your information to prove it’s really you that made the opt-out request (don’t do this, you’ll be providing information they might not even have. Contact them instead and tell them to remove your info) and a few will require you to send a letter by snail mail. If this is too much, DeleteMe is for you. If you don’t mind fighting for your online privacy then after 17 minutes you may be half way done removing your personal information from the internet, for free.
Did you check some of the websites? How many had information on you? Are you going to try and get the listings removed, have someone else do it or you really don’t care? Let me know in the comments!