When you want to protect your digital information from falling into the hands of data brokers, it’s a challenging process for you to handle on your own. You certainly can ask individual data brokers to not sell your information and remove it, but determining whether they actually do it is difficult. And when new data brokers pop up, you have to track them down, too.
That’s where a data removal service like DeleteMe can help. With DeleteMe, you can sign up for the service and ask it to begin conversing with data brokers on your behalf. DeleteMe sends you regular reports about its progress in requesting the removal of your data from the brokers.
While all of this sounds great, I know from past experiences with sites that claim to protect your data that the results sometimes don’t quite match the promises made in marketing materials. During my hands-on review of DeleteMe, I’ll answer questions like:
- Is DeleteMe actually effective?
- What exactly does DeleteMe remove for you?
- How quickly does DeleteMe remove your data from brokers?
- How does the DeleteMe signup process work?
- How much does DeleteMe cost?
I’ll start with a summary of my findings during my full DeleteMe review. For more information, including the answers to the questions listed here, check out the entire hands-on DeleteMe review.
DeleteMe review summary
Through my hands-on review of DeleteMe, I found that it delivers the services that it promises. Perhaps its best feature is how it continually monitors data brokers for new information that pops up about you. If you had to try to check back with data brokers on your own every few months, the amount of time you’d have to spend would increase significantly.
Beyond being easy to use and effective, I believe it gives subscribers a good value. Remember, DeleteMe is doing work on your behalf that might require several hours per month or more if you were tracking and conversing with data brokers on your own. Having the ability to free up your time alone makes DeleteMe a really good value at about $11 per month.
The regular progress reports that DeleteMe provides are easy to understand and decipher. These reports have a helpful mix of statistics and graphics that are perfect for viewing DeleteMe’s results at a glance.
Because of the way new data brokers pop up and the fact that data brokers are constantly adding new data, DeleteMe simply can’t guarantee that you never will have data for sale at data brokers at any particular time. DeleteMe is not a magic bullet for removing all your data forever. But it is far more successful and effective at dealing with data brokers than I could be on my own.
I listed the criteria we use for reviews of data removal services at the end of this article, where you can learn more information about the features we focused on for this DeleteMe review.
DeleteMe pros and cons
- Removes data from dozens of different data brokers
- Well-organized dashboard
- Responsive customer support team
- Well-established in the United States
- Regularly checks for appearance of new data
- Price is higher than competitors
- Asks for quite a bit of information at signup
- International services remain in development
How does it work?
Before discussing the main points of my DeleteMe review, it’s important to have an understanding of what data brokers do and what DeleteMe does.
What are data brokers?
Websites and apps make use of trackers and scripts that run automatically. They grab personal information about you, as well as information about your internet usage habits and interests.
Tracking some data seems normal, such as products you order or research. The data also can be extremely detailed and seem strange, such as where you hover your pointer on the webpage or the amount of time you spend on a page. The trackers use this detailed information to make predictions about things in which you may have interest and about how you may behave in the future.
Although you can stop some data tracking efforts through your internet habits, most people will expose some personal information at some point.
Eventually, data brokers will purchase this information about you from various tracking services. This is perfectly legal. Data brokers may add other information about you, such as from public records, to create a collection of your information. They then can sell your information to other entities for things like marketing and sales leads.
Bottom line: Having this data readily available from data brokers does not work out to your benefit at any time. All the power lies with the entities that hold your information. You don’t even know what information may be out there and being used against you.
In most countries, including the United States, data brokers must give you the ability to request the removal of your data. DeleteMe automates this process for you, making requests to dozens of data brokers on your behalf. DeleteMe then regularly checks back with the data brokers to ensure it doesn’t begin selling new aspects of your data a few months after the initial request.
What is DeleteMe?
With a DeleteMe subscription, you receive help with asking data brokers to remove your personal information from their lists. DeleteMe is one of our favorite services to remove your data from the internet.
DeleteMe initially appeared in 2010. Abine, Inc., which is based in Somerville, Mass., owns DeleteMe. Abine also operates IronVest, which originally was named Blur. IronVest protects your privacy by guarding access to your online accounts, among other services.
Because DeleteMe is based in the United States, it primarily provides removal services from American data brokers. Recently, though, DeleteMe added an introductory service in several other places around the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Australia.
How to sign up for DeleteMe
Once you pick your subscription plan from DeleteMe and submit your payment, you can begin entering your personal information. DeleteMe will ask you to submit dozens of pieces of information to help it find your items at data brokers. Some of these data entry steps are optional.
DeleteMe asks you questions as you progress through the signup screens, ensuring that it covers all your potential information that could be in the hands of a data broker. Some questions may seem a little strange or may not apply to you, but they also show the thorough nature of DeleteMe’s information gathering process.
The more information about yourself that you share with DeleteMe, the more of your personal data it can request to have removed from data brokers. DeleteMe will not remove any personal information that you do not give it permission to search for and remove. You give this permission during signup, and the removal process becomes automatic from there. The steps for entering your personal information include the following.
1. Personal information
Enter your first, middle, and last name, along with any alternatives to your name that you encounter regularly. These may include nicknames, a maiden name, or common misspellings. Enter your past and present email addresses and phone numbers. You can enter your date of birth and gender on this screen as well.
If you miss any required information, DeleteMe will place a red outline around the text box.
As mentioned earlier, you are free to enter as much or as little optional information as you want. DeleteMe is more effective when you provide more information, though. If you skipped any optional items, DeleteMe may give you a reminder message about adding those items before it allows you to move to the next screen.
Enter your current address along with addresses you used in the past in this step.
DeleteMe asks for an email address you use regularly in this step.
Yes, you had to sign up for the service with an email address, so this step seems redundant. However, some data brokers require that you verify via email that you would like to have DeleteMe represent you for removal of your personal information. Therefore, you need to have a working email address listed with DeleteMe.
In this step, DeleteMe asks you to upload an image of a government-issued ID that you own, such as a driver’s license. DeleteMe does recommend using an image editor to block out your photo and your driver’s license number before uploading it.
This is an optional step, so if you don’t feel comfortable submitting a photo of your driver’s license or passport, you can skip it. However, some data brokers will not process your request to remove information without seeing your government-issued ID.
5. Employer information
You can enter information about your employer on this screen, although it is optional. DeleteMe asks for:
- Employer name
- Your title
- Your company email
- Company phone number
- Company address
- Company website
- Your LinkedIn URL
You can add information about past employers as well. Although this step seems a little odd, some data brokers collect information about you through your professional digital footprint, as well as through your personal digital footprint.
6. Family and relatives
Adding information about people who are related to you may help DeleteMe track down your personal information with certain data brokers. DeleteMe asks for the type of relationship you have, the family member’s full name, and your family member’s email address.
Add information for as many or as few people as you like. This is an optional step.
As part of the final step, you will be asked to give DeleteMe limited power of attorney regarding your information. Some data brokers want to see this legal document before they will begin removing your data at DeleteMe’s request. If you don’t want to sign this document, DeleteMe says it may have to skip seeking data removal from certain data brokers.
Some people will find it unsettling to provide so much personal data to DeleteMe in an effort to protect personal data, and this is completely understandable. However, it’s the best way for the service to have as much success in removing your data as possible. I do wish DeleteMe did a better job of explaining the importance of each type of information it’s requesting.
If you are significantly uncomfortable with sharing this information, a data removal service might not be the best choice for you.
After you finish signing up, you should receive your first report about DeleteMe’s progress in removing your data within about a week.
The dashboard uses a mixture of reports, statistics, and graphics to present the information about DeleteMe’s data removal attempts on your behalf. On the dashboard, you can see:
- Your most recent report
- Subscription information
- Number of data brokers checked
- Number of records DeleteMe reviewed for you
- Number of data brokers who actually have your information
- Chart comparing the types of data DeleteMe found
DeleteMe can send requests to dozens of primarily U.S.-based data brokers. The number fluctuates as data brokers go into and out of business, but DeleteMe’s roster of data brokers it monitors usually hovers between 40 and 50. Some of the specific information DeleteMe removes on your behalf includes:
- Past addresses
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Work history
- Marital status
- Social media profiles
Understand that DeleteMe cannot remove your data from the public records that local, state, or federal governments provide. It can only make requests from private companies that serve as data brokers.
After working through the initial signup process and receiving your first report, DeleteMe generates additional reports for you every three months. Each report appears in a PDF format that you can download or view in your web browser. Within the report, you’ll see a list of each data broker DeleteMe checked and whether it found any of your data at that particular broker.
After the initial request to remove your data, DeleteMe will make additional requests to data brokers on your behalf every few months. This catches any new data that the data broker purchases after the most recent removal request. If DeleteMe hasn’t been able to remove certain data yet, you’ll see an in-progress status report.
Because data brokers have their own timetables for removing data after requests, having these reports on each broker is important. One broker may take several weeks to remove data, while another may only need a couple of weeks. The report helps you figure out where you stand.
If your personal data is showing up in Google search results, understand that it takes time for these results to fade away. Like other data removal services, DeleteMe does not kill search results related to your data. After your data is removed, the search engines will eventually stop indexing it, and the results will go away.
The DeleteMe pricing plans I am listing are for U.S. residents only.
- For one person: $10.75 per month or $129 for one year; $8.71 per month or $209 for two years
- For two people: $19.08 per month or $229 per year; $14.54 per month or $349 for two years
- Family plan: $27.42 per month or $329 per year; $20.79 per month or $499 for two years
You must pay for the entire year (or two years) up front. Each plan automatically renews at the end of the subscription plan, using the same payment method you used for the initial signup process.
DeleteMe has a business plan that aims to protect the personal data of employees. Having such information available through data brokers could put your business at risk. You must reach out to DeleteMe to receive a specific price quote for the business version.
If you need to sign up for DeleteMe from another country, your pricing is different from the U.S. pricing. For the basic service, the cost for DeleteMe is:
- Australia: $190 AUD per year
- Belgium: €125 per year
- Brazil: R$670 per year
- Canada: $172 CAD per year
- France: €125 per year
- Germany: €125 per year
- Ireland: €125 per year
- Italy: €125 per year
- Netherlands: €125 per year
- Singapore: $177 SGD per year
- UK: £115 per year
Because DeleteMe is still developing its offerings outside the United States, the pricing options and plans for non-U.S. customers may change frequently.
How DeleteMe guarantees your privacy
Of course, to be able to find your personal information at data brokers, DeleteMe has to maintain a list of quite a bit of your personal information. DeleteMe also must share some of your personal information with data brokers to prove that it is representing you in requesting the removal of your personal information.
Now we do have to mention that DeleteMe must follow U.S. data privacy laws because it is based in the United States. DeleteMe could be subject to court orders or law enforcement requests to share your personal data as part of the investigation of a crime, as well as gag orders.
Such laws are potentially unsettling, because you would have no idea DeleteMe received a warrant to turn over your personal information. There isn’t much you can do about this situation, but I wanted to point it out, in case it’s a concern for you as a potential subscriber.
DeleteMe’s customer support team is helpful and responded to my requests in a reasonable amount of time. It does not offer tech support by phone, but it does offer email support and live chat support during normal business hours. There’s also a contact form on the DeleteMe website. Beyond reaching out to DeleteMe, you can access some self-help documentation on the website and through your subscription dashboard.
You can call DeleteMe for customer service questions during normal business hours.
DeleteMe’s customer support responsiveness is comparable to other services.
DeleteMe gives you the option to make custom requests to remove your personal data that you find yourself. Because data brokers are constantly purchasing and collecting new data, you may find some data on your own before DeleteMe is able to make a request to remove it, making this custom request option highly valuable.
Do I recommend DeleteMe?
We also appreciate the customer service responsiveness. Even though it does not offer tech support by phone, you can call the company with general questions. Its tech support team is responsive through email, live chat, and web contact forms.
DeleteMe offers a good value for subscribers, but it does carry a price point that’s quite a bit higher than one of its main competitors – Incogni. DeleteMe costs $50-plus more per year than Incogni, which is quite a significant difference for a service like this. Additionally, Incogni offers a month-by-month payment plan, which DeleteMe does not have.
If you want to subscribe to DeleteMe from outside the United States, there may be some inconsistencies in the results you receive. DeleteMe only recently began offering its service internationally.
Because DeleteMe is so thorough about the types of information that it requests to have removed and with how frequently it makes those requests, we recommend it.
Methodology used for testing
We work hard to use the same criteria for each data removal service that we review. It’s important to put each service through the same testing procedures and to emphasize the same features and criteria. This allows us to give you a fair comparison of each service.
Our testing methodology focuses on the following:
- Features: Typically, data removal services don’t have a lot of features. Still, it’s important for us to focus on a few key areas, such as the frequency with which the service reports to you about what it’s doing. It’s also important to understand how often the service checks back with each data broker regarding any new personal information of yours that’s available.
- Ease of use: The user interface for the data removal service plays a big role in its ease of use. Whether you’re using an app or accessing the service’s dashboard through a web browser, it should clearly present your information. When the service organizes your results successfully, you can more easily judge how the service is working for you.
- Pricing: We all want good value when we are subscribing to a service like this. It’s important for the price to be reasonable, but it’s also important that the service works as advertised for that price.