Conceived in 2010 and released in 2011, Abine DeleteMe is the OG of personal data removal services. Its creators had the unenviable task of educating the uninformed masses about how data aggregators collect and sell your public data and how DeleteMe recovers your privacy by opting you out of their collections. Over the years, other similar services have sprung up, handling more removals and adding useful privacy features, while DeleteMe hasn’t advanced as much. Our current Editors’ Choice winners among personal data removal services are Optery and Privacy Bee, both of which manage automated removal for many more sites than DeleteMe.
How Much Does DeleteMe Cost?
A DeleteMe subscription costs $129 per year, just short of $11 per month. You can reduce what you pay per person by adding family members to your DeleteMe account. You pay $229 per year for a two-person subscription or $329 for a family of four.
Kanary charges $179.88 per year to clear your own data, plus $89.88 for each family member you add. Whether for just yourself or for you and a partner, it runs at least $40 more than DeleteMe.
DeleteMe and Privacy Bee both employ a staff of human agents for cases when automatic data removal doesn’t do the job. You pay $197 per year for Privacy Bee, notably more than DeleteMe’s cost. But Privacy Bee handles personal data cleanup for over 430 sites, compared with DeleteMe’s 72, and it supplements that coverage with many other privacy-related features.
Stepping up the price yet again, Optery charges $249.99 per year for a top-tier subscription, meaning the company handles all data cleanup activity for you. Optery offers a couple of other tiers where it removes your data from some sites and offers DIY cleanup instructions for others. That goes right down to a free tier that reports where your data’s found but leaves you to handle sending opt-out requests. Privacy Bee offers a similar free DIY tier.
DeleteMe also offers a free scan but doesn’t feature it prominently the way Optery and Privacy Bee do. In fact, I had to locate it by running a web search on “deleteme free scan.” DeleteMe makes its DIY opt-out guides available at no charge, letting you know precisely how to remove yourself from sites found by that free scan.
IDX Complete isn’t precisely comparable with the services I’ve named thus far. Its ForgetMe feature does handle data aggregators, but that’s just one component of a collection that includes identity protection, password management, a VPN, and other security features. For $355.52 per year, you can install local protection on three devices and protect one identity. Roughly doubling that price doubles local protection and extends identity monitoring to you, your partner, and up to five kids.
Like IDX Complete, Aura combines data broker opt-out with a collection of other security features, including identity theft remediation, antivirus, VPN, and password management. Its price ranges from $144 per year to cover one individual and 10 devices all the way up to $444 for 50 devices and five individuals.
Surfshark is best known for its popular VPN app, but the company also offers Incogni, a privacy service that both removes your data from people-search sites and sends removal requests to sites that might be hosting your data. At $77.88 per year, Incogni is the least expensive of these services.
Pricing for data broker opt-out services is all over the map, as you can see. But overall, DeleteMe costs less than most.
Getting Started With DeleteMe
DeleteMe collects your full name along with any alternate names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, and gender. You can also enter current and previous addresses. It’s worth noting that not all similar services let you enter more than one email, phone number, or address. With Privacy Bee, for example, adding another email address requires a second subscription.
DeleteMe requires you to upload a scan of a state ID with the sensitive parts masked out. The site explains that some sites require an ID to authorize the removal of your personal data, but the masked version is sufficient for this authentication. Maybe so, but I haven’t encountered another service with this requirement. You can also improve the identification process by listing relatives and employers.
As further proof that it has authorization to request data removal on your behalf, DeleteMe asks you to sign a limited power of attorney. That’s not uncommon. Incogni, IDX Complete, and Privacy Bee do the same. This helps DeleteMe do its job in areas with privacy laws such as the CCPA and GDPR.
The DeleteMe Dashboard
The first thing you do after setting up your DeleteMe subscription and filling in your personal data is…nothing. Now’s the time to sit back and give DeleteMe a little time to ruminate. You’ll get an email in a day or two when it’s ready for you to log in and view its activity.
As with most similar services, you interact with DeleteMe through an online portal. On the left, a menu offers a Dashboard, Reports, Privacy Tools, Data Sheet, and Account. There’s also an item pointing to a $50 reward you can earn by successfully referring a friend to DeleteMe.
The dashboard gives you an overview of DeleteMe’s activity, topped by a link to the latest report, details about your subscription, and a link to the Data Sheet, where you refine the service’s knowledge about your personal details.
Scroll down in the dashboard and you come to a collection of stats and charts. It lists the total number of data brokers checked, the number of listings reviewed, and the number of data brokers found to be holding your personal info. Listings reviewed simply means the number of search hits DeleteMe received for analysis. The last figure is the important one. You’ll see in the screenshot that it only found three for me. Most users will see more hits; my data is sparse due to my testing of other services in this field.
A timeline bar chart tracks DeleteMe’s activity by month; naturally, this will be nearly empty at first. Next to it, a pie chart breaks down the types of data the scan found exposed: Address, Property Records, Name, Phone, and Family Members. At any time, you can log in to the dashboard for a quick view of your privacy.
How Many Sites Does DeleteMe Clean Up?
If you’re going to enlist a service like DeleteMe to sweep your personal profiles, you want comprehensive coverage. The more people search and data broker sites a service can handle automatically, the better off you are. Quite a few competitors automate removals from more sites than DeleteMe does.
Determining the breadth of a personal data removal service’s coverage is not always easy. DeleteMe lists 750 data broker sites online, but you must dig deeper to fully understand this list. Each listed item references one or more footnotes, and analyzing the footnotes reveals that almost 90% of the items listed just represent sites where DeleteMe can handle custom requests to remove data, including sites like Realty.com, WebMD.com, and Zillow.com. Only 58 of the 750 sites are marked to indicate automated removal for regular users.
My contact at Abine notes that this page needs an update and that DeleteMe currently offers automated removal for 72 data aggregator sites. That’s more coverage than you get with Aura, which manages fewer than 30 sites. IDX Complete doesn’t list or offer details about the sites it manages, but apparently, it handles about 100. Incogni and Kanary beat that figure, with 183 and 210 sites, respectively.
With Optery, the number of sites cleaned automatically depends on your pricing tier. At the top tier, which costs almost twice DeleteMe’s subscription price, it automates personal data removal from 305 sites. With lower tiers, it does less, leaving more for you to manage manually.
At the top, you find Privacy Bee, which, as of this writing, fully manages data removal for 434 sites. It checks its work to verify removal. If it still finds your information on sites it has contacted, it resubmits its requests—recalcitrant brokers get escalated to human intervention. Privacy Bee can also arrange the removal of your data from non-aggregator websites, perhaps commercial sites that you no longer trust. DeleteMe also offers such custom removals, but its list of 700-odd sites for custom removal pales next to Privacy Bee’s 160,000 sites.
Not long after you sign up, DeleteMe notifies you by email that your initial report is ready. During this review, that notification came about two days after signup. The reports page lists all your reports and shows the dates for a handful of pending ones. DeleteMe creates a new report for you every 90 days.
DeleteMe delivers reports as PDF files that you can optionally save or print. After a chatty letter explaining the process, the report offers a summary. According to my latest report, DeleteMe checked 3,396 records, found three data brokers with six personal data items to be removed, and identified 17 individual items of PII (personally identifiable information). The summary estimated that I would have needed 6.5 hours to do the searches myself and 1.5 hours to manage the removals had I chosen to use the DIY opt-out instructions.
The report finishes with page after page of findings, six per page. It shows each broker’s logo, the average time required to remove data from that aggregator, and (in most cases) a smiling green icon labeled Clean, meaning your data is no longer present. If removal is still in progress, the report briefly summarizes the types of data exposed.
As in previous evaluations, I found the report unwieldy. It’s hard to get an overview with just six items per page. I’d be happier with a simple list that marked the sites it found to be clean of personal data and offered a link to details for those where a profile was found.
Fine-Tune Your Profile
A search for your data online will likely turn up some incorrect hits, especially if you have a common name. Back on the dashboard view, I found a panel titled “Is this you?” that showed my name misspelled, with buttons to respond “This is me,” “My relative,” or “No.” Clicking a link to see all such findings brought me to the Data Sheet page.
On this page I found several possible matches. Three simply reported cities and asked whether they represent a current address, a past address, or neither. None were relevant, so I clicked them away. For the remaining item, well, my name gets misspelled a lot, and this one really was me, so I claimed it.
You may or may not have items of this type to review, but the Data Sheet page is also where you can edit or add to the personal information you gave to DeleteMe upon signing up. You can add past phone, email, and address options or include alternate names you’ve used, for example.
Added Security for Your DeleteMe Account
It’s ironic that you must give DeleteMe (and similar services) your personal info so they can remove that personal data from people-search and broker sites. Really, though, there’s no other way. To make doubly sure that your DeleteMe profile data is protected, consider engaging its multi-factor authentication options.
By default, DeleteMe uses an authenticator app to supplement your password for login purposes. A hacker who stole your password couldn’t break in—not without your phone and that app. When you log in, you enter both that password and a code from the app. IDX Complete, Kanary, and Optery also support authentication using an app.
DeleteMe also allows you to email a code to your primary email address for login. Privacy Bee always sends a code to your email, but the code serves instead of a password, not in addition to it.
Bonus Privacy Features
DeleteMe doesn’t check every data broker site in the world. If you find your data on a people search site or similar site that’s not on DeleteMe’s list, you can still get help. Just find the Privacy Advisor panel at the bottom left of DeleteMe’s page and click to make a request. The team will investigate and take appropriate action, which might mean adding the site to DeleteMe’s list. You can submit up to 40 custom removal requests per year.
Once you’ve made a custom request, you may wonder how it’s going. To view the status of any pending requests, click Account from the menu and then click Custom Requests. It’s a bit out of the way.
Along with data brokers and people search sites that have your information, Privacy Bee includes search results that you might want removed. In my case, these included a mention by a realtor I once worked with, a long-ago user review, and many references to the books I’ve written. DeleteMe can also work with the results you find when you search for yourself, but it’s more of a discussion. You can’t start until three weeks after your first removal report. At that time, you can provide feedback to DeleteMe about what you want removed. Given the time-delay requirement, I didn’t test this feature.
In a more practical vein, DeleteMe offers masking of personal information, much like what you get with IronVest, which was previously known as Abine Blur. Rather than give your real email address to a website, you open DeleteMe and create a masked address. By default, it generates a random email like [email protected]. If you wish, you can create a custom masked email like [email protected]. Do note that your custom email must be unique among all DeleteMe users.
The site you’re connecting with only sees the masked email, but their messages and replies get forwarded to your main email account. If you reply to them, once again, they see the masked email. And if one of these temporary emails starts to get spam, you can just delete it. This system doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a full-blown temporary email service, but it totally does the job of insulating your actual email address from online transactions.
Like IronVest, DeleteMe lets you create temporary phone numbers as well, so you can receive calls and text alerts without getting your real phone number on SMS spam lists. IronVest also permits creating temporary credit cards; for DeleteMe, that feature is “Coming soon.” Do note that each masked phone number costs $7. The charge for a temporary credit card varies by the value.
Should You Use DeleteMe?
Abine DeleteMe promises to delete your personal data from dozens of the most popular personal data aggregators, and it seems to do that job just fine. It only reports its progress quarterly, though, and the reports are bulky and awkward. On a positive note, it now offers masked email addresses and (for a price) masked phone numbers. Still, Privacy Bee automates data removal on vastly more sites than DeleteMe, and it extends privacy protection with coverage for data breach exposures, industry opt-outs, and more. Optery also manages way more sites than DeleteMe, with unusually clear reporting on its successes. Optery and Privacy Bee are our Editors’ Choice picks for personal data removal.
The Bottom Line
Abine DeleteMe opts you out from sites that collect and sell your data using a combination of automation and direct human intervention.
Like What You’re Reading?
Sign up for SecurityWatch newsletter for our top privacy and security stories delivered right to your inbox.