Privacy

Remove your information from the internet

This goal of this guide is to provide you the basics on data removal you can do yourself for free.  I will cover using our opt-out lists along with  some advice on the best ways to attack some common issues that people face when going through this process.  I will be referencing several parts of this site and others that get updated frequently, so be sure to reference back for any updates.

Preperation

This section will walk you through the tools and preparation that is recommended for the data removal process.  We strive to recommend privacy focused and free tools.  

Data Removal Worksheet

The personal data removal worksheet will help you identify and organize your personal data.  The data collected in this document will become targets for your removal requests and help with a complete date removal.   It is important to identify things such as nicknames, alternate spelling, and any previous information that might link you to identifiable information.

DATA REMOVAL WORKSHEET

Anonymous Email Address

We always recommend an alternate email address just for your opt-out process.  This email should be used ONLY for data removal services and not contain any identifiable information.  This email will be abandoned after the data removal process.

  • Create the account under a fictitious name
  • Do not use any identifiable information in the email address.  Use some random numbers and/or words.
  • Never use a phone number associated directly to you when signing up

ProtonMail – A secure and encrypted email service based in Switzerland.  Top Choice.

Gmail – Google’s Gmail doesn’t need much explanation.   Do not use accurate information when signing up.

Tutanota – A secure and encrypted email service based in Germany

Yahoo Mail – Yahoo Mail is still one of the top email providers on the internet.

Anonymous Phone Number​

Anonymous Phone Number – Not having a cell phone number is extremely rare in our digital society and is usually a requirement for social media or paid account creations.  People rarely change their phone numbers which makes it an idea mechanism to link your information from different data sources.  To prevent this linking in our removal process we will use a temporary phone number to add another layer of privacy.  Here are a few services we recommend.

Burner – App for both iPhone and Andriod.  Lets you pick a disposable number(s) for use.  7-day free trial.

Mint Mobile Starter Kit – If you have an old cell phone you can buy a Mint starter kit for $0.99 online or at pharmacies and electronic stores.  You get 100MB of 4G data, 100 text messages and 100 voice minutes.  No contract and can be discarded after use.

MySudo – A personal favorite.  Allows you to create profiles including a phone number and email address.  Plans start at $0.99/month.

Google Voice – Google Voice is an ok option but still requires you pair an existing phone number to your service.  

Fax Services

Some services still require or provide a fax option for data removal.  Personally I believe this is to deter people from pursing the opt-out process.  Luckily there are fax services we can utilize to complete this process easily.  There are two FREE services that I recommend and are easy to use.

GotFaxFree – A free and easy way to do an outbound fax.  Three pages per fax and a maximum of two faxes a day.

FaxZero – Another free fax outbound service.  Maximum of three faxes or a max of 25 pages.

Opt-Out Methods

This section will describe the main opt out methods implemented by online websites.  

Online Tool​

These are the easiest to request your data to be removed.  Simply click on the link and fill out the data removal request form.  

Opt out example

E-Mail Request

E-mail the Basic Opt-Out Form or which ever form meets your situation to the listed e-mail address.   Make sure you put “Data Removal Request” or “Opt-Out Request” as the  subject and ALL the information requested.

email opt out request

Fax Request

Use the Basic Opt-Out Form or which ever form meets your situation and fax it to the listed  number.   Again be sure to include all requested information in the opt out instructions.

fax opt out free

Mail-In Request

Print out the Basic Opt-Out Form or whatever form meets your situation.  Use standard 1st class US Postal Mail to the listed mailing address.

mail in opt out

Using the Opt-Out List

Now that you have the tools and a general understanding of the opt-out process we can start the data removal process.  

Removal Tips

Do not give your data away.  Do not submit a removal or opt-out request unless your data appears on this site.

Be Persistent.  It may take several attempts to remove all your data.  If one method doesn’t work, try another. 

Keep Organized.  Print off the Opt-Out list, use a notepad or spreadsheet to note when you submitted your request.

Leaving Inaccurate Information.  Data that does not identify you or that is not correct can be left unchanged.  Wrong information can help shield any accurate information from being identified.

The Process

We have designed the layout of the Opt-Out list for data removal as easy as possible.  The list is divided in sections and we suggest completing each section as a whole for maximum effectiveness.  It is also recommended to address any sites first that may pose a heightened privacy risk.

Quick Start

Don’t have time to go through the whole Opt-Out List?  
We have compiled our top sites to suppress your data that will have the biggest impact on your privacy.  These sites will be a good start to removing your data from the internet but we still highly encourage the completion of our Opt-Out List.

1.

Identify the data to be removed  

  • Open the Opt-Out List to start your data removal.  Make sure you read the instructions in the NOTES section for each site. 
  • For email, fax and mail-in requests make sure you submit the exact data that is shown on the site.  
  • Do multiple searches for data combinations identified on your data removal worksheet and submit a separate removal request for each combination.
  • If the site does not a public available search (such as a private data broker) submit your most identifiable information.  A good example is the information listed on your bank account or drivers license.

2.

Removal Procedure

  • Preform the removal procedure for the site.  Preform a separate removal for every set of personal data you have found.
  • Use our Opt-Out Forms that best meet your removal situation.
  • Note the date when you submitted your removal request and what data was submitted.
  • Note any sites of particular interest

3.

Verify data has been removed

  • Each site has their own timeline for removing your data, some quicker than others.  Waiting 30-45 days to verify return to the site that your information is no longer being displayed is a good timeframe for double checking.
  • Recheck all sites you submitted opt-out requests to verify your data has been removed.  You can save time spot checking popular or sites you noted during step two.

4.

Follow up removal requests

  • Sometimes sites will not remove your information on the initial request and requires multiple requests.  This is annoying but unfortunately a common thing.
  • For email/fax/mail-in second and third request examples are located in our Opt-Out Forms.
  • If there are multiple opt-out or data removal options try resubmitting another option (or all)