Is DeleteMe Worth The Money?
A Real Look at DeleteMe and an Interview with CEO Rob Shavell
Quick Questions about DeleteMe:
Q: Is DeleteMe worth the money?
A: As a longtime customer, I think it is.
Q: Will DeleteMe erase me from the entire internet like I never existed?
A: No. But they can help you get off of tons of websites and make it harder for people to find you.
Q: Have you ever interviewed Rob Shavell the CEO of DeleteMe’s parent company, Abine?
A: That’s oddly specific, but yes I have.
Note: This article contains affiliate links.
DeleteMe and Online Privacy
I am older than the internet. Back in the day, no company tracked where we went, what we clicked on, or what ads we engaged with. Today, nearly everything we do is tracked. And when we do things like refinance our home, apply for a credit card, download a new app, our personal data is harvested… and then sold.
Data brokers are companies that “procure” your data or buy it from credit card companies, app developers, and social media companies. So just about everything we do online is tracked and logged by some company.
Now let’s introduce the scourge of the internet, the people-search sites. These sites are databases of information on private citizens like you and me that can be bought by anyone. This information includes:
Your full name
Social media profiles
If I know your name and city, then chances are I can buy all of this information about you. How does that make you feel?
Oh, and this is all legal.
What is DeleteMe?
DeleteMe is a service that provides privacy for people like us. They help their customers remove all of this sensitive information from data broker websites so random people and companies can’t buy it.
While everything these data broker sites do is legal, thankfully there is some government regulation. Data brokers have to legally offer us a way to request our data be removed.
You might be thinking, “Great, I’ll submit my requests today.” And that sounds like a good idea, but let me tell you the reality, friend.
There is no standard removal method, timeline, or submission process. Plus, you don’t know who all of the data brokers are and new ones pop up all the time. It’s like a sad, frustrating game of whack-a-mole. DeleteMe actually offers a free guide so you a do it yourself and you’ll find how tedious this process is.
So now that you’re dizzy from thinking about all the things you have to do to opt-out your data, this is where DeleteMe comes in. They take care of this process for you. All you need to do is sign up, answer some questions, and DeleteMe goes to work for you.
Once you’re in, they find all of the data that exists about you. Then they set about removing that data as fast as they can. Unfortunately, that process can take a while because brokers don’t have to move fast. Once your data is removed they continue to look for it and remove it as necessary. Plus, they add new data brokers as the pop-up and remove your data. So they never stop working for you.
My Personal Experience with DeleteMe
I joined DeleteMe a few years ago after I discovered what data brokers were and how easy people-search sites made it to find people. I don’t have anything to hide necessarily, but the thought of someone finding me online and driving to my door is very unsettling. So I see DeleteMe as a form of defensive tool.
Sign up was easy and it’s very much a set it and forget it service. Every once in a while I’ll get a question from the team. I’ve had to send more information like a copy of my driver’s license because apparently, one data broker has that as a barrier for the opt-out process.
Every quarter I get a report that says how many sites I’ve been deleted from and what sites they are currently in the process of removing my information from. In the case that they do find my data somewhere, they tell me they’re on it and how long the removal process will be, which is great.
I’m also given a privacy advisor that can answer any questions I have plus I can make requests of them to help me. So it’s not an anonymous service run by robots.
My Biggest Lesson from DeleteMe
The biggest lesson that I learned is that when you opt-out of a site like WhitePages.com is that you are only opting out of the data they currently have on you. It’s not a protection from future data yet to be purchased.
So if you buy a new home, get a new credit card or anything like that, the same company can buy your information again because it’s technically “new”. This means if you opt-out of a bunch of sites and refinance your home, you’ll have to opt-out all over again.
Remember that sad, frustrating game of whack-a-mole I talked about?
DeleteMe Privacy Report
Once a quarter I get an email about a privacy report. Security is important to them, so I log in and see what’s going on. My dashboard gives me fun stats like this:
The reports look like this:
The report is easy to understand. Sites that do not have my data are noted with a green smiley face. Sites that have some of my data are shown with a display of what data they do have on me and that DeleteMe is in the process of removing that data.
Simple to understand, right?
Rob Shavell, CEO of DeleteMe Interview
As the host of The Secure Dad Podcast, I got to interview Rob Shavell the CEO and co-founder of Abine the parent company of DeleteMe. Ironically, Rob’s people contacted me about the interview not knowing that I was a customer.
Rob and I have a great talk and I ask him questions that people like us want to know. You’ll find Rob has a no no-nonsense approach to data privacy advocacy, which I like.
Watch the interview with Rob Shavell
Pros and Cons of DeleteMe
Now that you’ve seen how DeleteMe works, let’s take a look at the pros and cons. First, the cons:
I’ll admit that the name DeleteMe is accurate, as it does delete your information from data broker sites, but it won’t make you a ghost on the internet. DeleteMe can’t legally erase your data from government websites. Apparently, that’s a crime.
You have to send a bunch of personal information to DeleteMe and trust that they’ll use it correctly. While I know security is a top priority for them, a data breach here would be really bad for a lot of people.
The last con isn’t really DeleteMe’s fault and that is that this process takes time. There is no magic button that burns your identity from the information superhighway. By its nature, private data removal can take up to 6 weeks depending on the broker’s terms.
Now let’s take a look at what I feel are positives for DeleteMe:
DeleteMe does the work that I don’t want to do. My time is more valuable than my money in this case. I don’t want to play whack-a-mole, I want DeleteMe to well… delete me.
I’ve seen over the years that the data removal process that DeleMe uses works. I’ve seen my data removed in reports and even searched for myself on these sites to confirm their reports.
It’s easy to use DeleteMe. Once you sign up, you answer some questions, provide some personal information, and they then go hunt down the data brokers that keep you up at night. I like the feeling that capable people have my back.
Overall, my family trusts DeleteMe. Yours can, too.