Data Brokers That Don’t Honor Requests: Fall 2022 Update

Here at Removaly, we usually have no problem getting data brokers to comply with our removal requests. If a certain data broker doesn’t honor the initial request through their opt out forms, they almost always will comply when contacting or emailing them. Although we remain successful at removing information, there are instances where data brokers will not honor our requests.

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First of all, some data brokers can make it almost impossible to find their opt out form or don’t offer one at all. It seems like some of them purposely make it very difficult to find their opt out forms or even contact information to discourage you from attempting to remove information. This can be extremely frustrating especially when they contain PII (Personally Identifiable Information) that you did not agree with them using or posting online available for anyone to access.

Data Brokers Not Honoring Requests

There are certain data brokers that are notorious for not honoring requests on the first attempt and we have compiled a list of data brokers below that we currently cover but give a much harder time than the rest.

Radaris

Radaris is usually very easy to remove information from if it is an actual listing/profile that you can click on and view. Normally we will submit this through their opt out form and the request will be taken care of within 24-72 hours. You will know if you are on a standard profile if there is a ~ (a tilde) before the user’s first name in the URL, as well as a 10-digit number at the end.

For example, this was the URL for Removaly co-founder John Bourscheid (it has since been removed for obvious reasons): https://radaris.com/~John-Bourscheid/1660730104.

This is what a typical profile URL will look like (as of late September 2022).

However, Radaris also posts public information that is not put into an actual listing/profile. They gather and scrape this information from publicly available records, company information, social media profiles (including LinkedIn public profiles, even if they are old), and other sources. This information they post can not be submitted through a normal opt out form because it is not an actual listing/profile. 

Typically, these listings can be found at URLs that look like this: https://radaris.com/p/[FIRST NAME]/[LAST NAME].

This type of information on Radaris can be much more difficult to remove, because the only way to submit a removal request is to contact them through email ([email protected]). While this should be an easy process to contact them, in most cases it is not. They usually take some time to respond, can make the back and forth purposefully difficult, and in some cases don’t respond at all.

When they do respond, in most cases they either recommend a user sign up for their service and redact information via “Information Control” line by line. Conversely, they may request additional information or specifically what information a user would like removed. In an email, many times it is dependent on whether you are a California resident or not. Even when they ask about this, generally sites will comply even when you are outside of California.

You may need to go back and forth with them a few times until all necessary information you’d like removed have been removed. You’ll get an email like this once Radaris believes they have removed and redacted the necessary requested information:

Despite this, you should most definitely keep an eye out and ensure that they have properly removed the requested information. We have had many situations where it took a bit of back and forth before all information was properly taken care of by Radaris.

For our comprehensive Radaris opt out guide, please go here.

PeekYou

PeekYou has historically been one of the most difficult data brokers to deal with. They provide an opt out form that you can submit with the information you would like to have removed. Although they provide the option to opt out, PeekYou does not honor many or any at all of the requests sent to them.

It seems like their opt out form is just there to make the user feel like they have submitted their information so they are good to go and don’t need to worry about it after even though their information is still on their site. 

PeekYou also is extremely difficult to get in contact with. They have multiple different contact email addresses that do not make it clear which one to contact for inquiries including removal requests. If we receive a reply from one of their contact emails after an opt out form submission, they always ask to reply for verification purposes, which then leads to them not answering and not honoring the request.

Standard PeekYou profile, note the tiny Opt Out link.

There are multiple ways to go about getting to opt out forms. Each method leads to a different form. The standard profile screenshot above shows a small link that says “Opt Out”. Clicking that leads to this URL, but with some information pre-filled in: https://www.peekyou.com/about/contact/optout/. As of late September 2022, the captcha solving often does not work properly for opt out submissions:

Does this seem incorrect to you?

There is no contact page on PeekYou, and the only email addresses found on their site for contact is [email protected] on their Privacy Policy page here, and [email protected] on their Terms of Service page here. Neither of these email addresses result in any kind of rapid response. They also have an additional, more comprehensive opt out page, which is the page found on the footer of their website, which can be found here.

For our comprehensive PeekYou opt out guide, please go here.

Voter Records

VoterRecords is similar to Radaris in the sense that they will honor normal removal requests that contain PII. Although they remove most of the sensitive information, they do not always remove all of it including the location and political party that person is associated with. This can be quite frustrating, because they give you an option to opt out and remove most of the information, but not all of it.

In a standard removal, you can easily look up your personal information through the standard simple search on the VoterRecords home page. Once you find your profile, you’ll likely see an alarming amount of personal information, including your full address and more.

This is my VoterRecords profile, noted at an address I have not lived at for over 10 years. It popped up after I removed the one at my past address.

Scrolling to the bottom of the page shows a “Record Opt Out” link. Click that and fill out the information. You’ll quickly receive an email that will assist with removing the information. VoterRecords gets one positive point for immediately removing the most extreme PII (full home address, phone number, that kind of thing). However, they get dinged by leaving up just about all other personal information, including voting party affiliation and much more.

The official note that they provide in the opt out confirmation is: “The requested opt-out has been successfully processed. Information such as house number, phone, and email address should no longer appear on the record.”

However, there are many times where that isn’t enough. In fact, in the screenshot above, the only information that was actually removed was the full address. So then what?

In their FAQ, one of the questions is: “Can I completely remove my entire record and name from this site?”. The answer is concerning:

We respect your privacy and as such we offer a simple record opt-out described above to remove some of the types of public records data such as house number, phone, and email address. We generally do not allow complete removal of records except for individuals who have an official exemption from public records due to the fact that all information was deemed to be public record when released by the government. Anyone at anytime can request a copy of a public record from the government, so entirely removing a record from this site would not prevent someone from requesting the public record in the future directly from the government.

It’s a cop out, plain and simple. So, to work around this, go to their Contact page. Fill it out as such, and then wait for their response:

How they respond is completely up to the responding party. Sometimes they demand documentation of exemption for public records. Other times they will remove the page as requested. How they respond is dependent on who picks up the contact form request. Much like PeekYou and Radaris, whenever there is the need for actual human intervention, things tend to get drawn out or go awry.

For our comprehensive VoterRecords opt out guide, please go here.

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do to remove your information from these types of data brokers is to continue to submit opt out requests and contact them. Most of the time being persistent and “annoying” will get them to remove your information. Continually emailing them or contacting them via other methods will usually result in the long term them complying and removing your information. 

The next best option is to get regulations and laws in place that will protect our online information or at the very least make it much easier for data brokers to comply with users’ requests to remove their information. Right now the current laws in the United States do very little to protect us. We know this because we have broken down the privacy laws of every single state in the United States in this comprehensive guide. This is why it is important to be vocal to local and state officials about the major issue of online privacy. 

If data brokers are held accountable and have severe penalties for not honoring your opt out requests, it will be much easier to keep your personal information secure and private. As online privacy becomes more important to the general public, it will be not much longer until other states will create their own regulations and laws like California, Utah, Virginia, Colorado, and Connecticut.

Protect Your Personal Data

Let Removaly keep a watchful eye on your personally identifiable information with automated, real-time data removal.

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