Are data removal services worth it?

Have any of you heard of companies (I think that’s a proper term) such as Incogni, Optery, PrivacyBee or the like? Have you used them? Are they really worth it for removing your data from various sites and such?

I am new to a lot of this privacy stuff and I want to make sure I do what I can where appropriate. I am taking steps here and there and am unsure which are entirely necessary when there are so many (sometimes conflicting) suggestions on what to or not to do.


This seems like a fun question. I would be interested to hear the experience of someone who actually used that kind of thing, whether they felt it was useful.

Using PureOS hardware for the past year has been making me feel like I suddenly have the eyes to see that a ton of technology in our society is broken by design, and the only seemingly good explanation is that people and institutions that we basically need to trust for society to function are failing to be trustworthy in favor of profits.
As a result, if I choose to be maximally paranoid, it would follow for me logically that I can’t pay anyone else to delete my data because they aren’t beholden to honor my trust in them. For example, I used YouTube for about 15 years. If I pay them to delete my data, Google would stop telling me that they had that data, but I would assume that they would keep the data on record in “anonymized” form – in some way that they decide they are allowed to do – despite my request. Then, some data mining system on their side would later pair that data back to me if I touched one of their products or services, and resume operating off of over a decade of records on me.

That’s a pretty paranoid take, and maybe it’s not your threat model. If you concern is that somebody is going to look up your name and find where you lived last year, then paying some whitepages site not to show it might work, depending on the site, I have no idea. Even I don’t know where I live anymore, so I’m not very concerned about other people knowing.



I think this topic will be more useful if it contains actual experiences.

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No, but @amarok may be able to answer your various questions.

In that light, if none of you have used such a service, then should I really be worried about some 150 odd websites having my name and address? Perhaps that kind of information is not too big of a privacy concern. I suppose the data I really wouldn’t like sites to have is where I go to surf the internet.

(Now I’m thinking more deeply on this, haha.)

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For a start it allows someone to join the dots i.e. connect one activity of yours with another activity of yours.

Secondly, name and address would be a good starting point for identity theft, fraud and other criminal activity.

No way I would give any web site my real name and address.

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I’ve used three such services over the years. They all worked well for me at a cost of about $80 to $130 annually. This sort of service can’t remove everything, if there are sites that are unresponsive to removal requests, or if the sites are not on the company’s removal list. If your name is very common, you’ll probably see a lot of false positives that you’ll have to sift through.

There are many, many sites that constantly repropagate personal data from other, major sites, and more are probably being added all the time. So getting your data removed from the major sites has a knock-on benefit.

Most of these services will tell you how to remove your data yourself, site by site, but it’s very time consuming and requires some level of organization and tracking on your part. You also have to keep checking for new entries periodically. That’s why it’s an attractive proposition to just pay a service to do it.

Be aware that there is at least one data removal service that is foreign-owned (based in Belarus), so I would recommend fully researching any service you are thinking of using, prior to handing your names, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses over to them.

First, search the internet to see what’s publicly available about you and your family members or cohabitants. You can also check some well-known sites like and, or Are you OK with this data being publicly visible and searchable?

If you’ve bought a home or applied for remodeling permits, registered to vote, signed a public petition, held a driver license, subscribed to anything commercial, then your data is likely out there somewhere. If you get junk mail, then your data is being trafficked.

Have you ever been notified that your information was compromised in a data breach? Has your private info been compromised in data breaches that you don’t even know about? Check

Do you trust every company and website that holds your name, date of birth, address, telephone number, financial data, medical data, photos, files, etc., to never fall victim to account hijacking? If criminals can find your personal information, including answers to probable security questions you use for logins, they could take over all your accounts, lock you out of them, and wreak havoc.

Subscribing to a removal service will help greatly, but you can improve on that by making sure you have opted out of marketing and data sharing everywhere you can.

  • Check the privacy/marketing settings in every one of your accounts.
  • Register your phone numbers at (for U.S. numbers).
  • Register at (U.S.).
  • Get off junk mail lists: (U.S.).
  • Consider placing a fraud alert or a freeze with the major credit bureaus (U.S.). (There are more than the three well-known ones, by the way.)

Some U.S. states have stricter privacy laws and consumer options for protecting your data, which also leads to even greater success with using a data removal service. California has even just passed a new law that will allegedly provide a single opt-out point for consumers to stop trafficking of their personal information by any data broker marketing Californians’ private data. This won’t be available until 2026, I’ve read.

You can check online reviews and prices for the well-known data removal services for yourself, then decide.


For DIY removal:


I do not use such services for multiple reasons, but the main one is that I see no value in them. My strategy is to split my identity into two, public and private, and ensure that they never become correlated. It is considered acceptable if either identity develops its own separate profile.

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Good to know, thank you.

I’ll look into the rest of what you have said as well.

I did briefly use a couple of those sites you mentioned to see if my name and address are out there. My name is, but with the incorrect address (old address I should say) and it doesn’t know my age (based on those sites only). Although it knows “related” people (my parents) and far more detailed information about them than me.

I will take this forward with me and apply it wherever I can in the future and where I can with what I know of now. So thanks again.


uBlock Origin using Easy Mode should be enough for most purposes, but note that your ISP will often configure their DNS servers using Do53 on provided routers so that they know the IP addresses of the domains you resolve to.

See also:

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