Delete your personal information from the internet

29. July 2013 Security 7

DeleteMeLogoThere 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.

Sounds good
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:
– Addresses.com
– Archives.com
– BeenVerified.com
– Intelius.com
– PeekYou.com
– PeopleLookup.com
– PeopleSmart.com
– Peoplefinders.com
– PublicRecordsNow.com
– PrivateEye.com
– Spokeo.com
– USA-People-Search.com
– USSearch.com
– WhitePages.com
– ZabaSearch.com
And by having your information removed from these sites they should also be removed from the following sites:
– 123People.com
– 411.com
– 99Lists.com
– Anywho.com
– DexKnows.com
– EmailFinder.com
– FreePhoneTracer.com
– LookUpAnyone.com
– Peeepl.com
– Phonebook.com
– PublicRecords.com
– Spock.com
– Switchboard.com
– ThePublicRecords.com
– TopPeopleFinder.com
– Wink.com
– Yahoo People Search
– Yasni.com

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.
bookmarks
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!


7 thoughts on “Delete your personal information from the internet”

  • 1
    Roland33 on July 29, 2013 Reply

    I’ve always known my information was in the phone book growing up and later on on the internet (yellow pages etc), I’ve never given thought about it and assumed this was normal. I have never known about all these other websites that charge money for MY information, call me naive I just didn’t know. I went through the list and found my information on 19 websites (found a few through Google as well)! You were spot on, most let me remove the info and a few need the extra info, an account and so on. When it comes to the awareness, I have it now! 🙂 I didn’t time it but i got most of my info removed in about an hour (searching for opt-out links, reading etc.).

  • 2
    Bluntman1 on July 29, 2013 Reply

    I am too lazy to care or do anything about it. Hell, I was too lazy to even write a decent comment!

  • 3
    Brandon on September 5, 2013 Reply

    It’s hard to find well-informed people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what you’гe talκing аbout!
    Τhankѕ

  • 4
    Umrk on December 13, 2013 Reply

    I really found your post to be very informative. In fact, I bookmarked this site as well as taking a copy of the bookmarked sites I am about to try and opt out from. I find this companies to be intrusive and, in a way, a violator of my right to privacy. I never gave anyone permission to share my phone number, address, age…yet here it is, on any number of these sites. Until something better (or cheaper) comes along, I will need to stay vigilant.

    Keep up the good work!

  • 5
    Rachel on September 3, 2015 Reply

    I really enjoyed this article. Anyone else have problems with peekyou? Since I don’t have a unique ID it says it can’t stop automatically pulling my info from public websites and social media sites

  • 6
    Alan on February 10, 2016 Reply

    WHY IS LEGAL for these companies to do what they are doing? My Name is my copyright property and anyone using it for commercial purposes without my consent is BREAKING THE LAW. Why is our government allowing these despicable companies to break the copyright laws and on such a massive scale? WTF it is just insane how many companies are selling my name (my property) without my permission.

    I have a canned copyrights violation 10 day legal notice letter demanding them to cease and desist from using my copy written property (my name) without my consent or I will sue them for infringement. I use network solutions.com WHO IS and send the letter to the website administrators email listed.

    99% of the time they quickly remove the pages with my name on it because yes, they are breaking the copyright law. BUT then they always put it back a few months later.

    They are all disgusting criminals. Why does our government allow this wholesale unchecked criminal activity? It makes me embarrassed to saw I am an American.

    I swear I am getting so fed up I am going to find an attorney to just work full time for me actually filing copyrights lawsuits against all of these creeps and just let the lawsuit monies roll in .. They have NO defense, they will lose in court plus have to pay attorneys fees. The copyrights law are well defined and vigorously enforced unlike privacy laws WHICH ARE NON Existent in our country.

    Thanks for allowing me to rank but yes folks, I do not see many conversation about the fact that they are violating copyright law to use you name for commercial purposes without your consent … wanted to contribute that to this conversation thread/

  • 7
    Elizabeth on August 21, 2016 Reply

    Some of them require to “Attach acceptable identification to help verify your identity.” Is this a legitimate request/requirement? If so, what info on say a driver’s license should be blotted out only providing the bare minimum?

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