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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

How to Remove Personal Information From the Internet

Georgii Chanturidze Published on 29th March 2024 Fact-checked by Ryan Jones Senior Writer

Search engines, apps, and websites openly collect, share, and sometimes even sell your data. This affects your online privacy and can lead to cyber threats like hacking or fraud. Luckily, it’s possible to remove your personal info from the internet without too much hassle.

While writing this guide, I looked into and tested both paid and free methods to give you plenty of choices. Of all the methods I tested, DeleteMe or Incogni are the easiest options. These services automatically request sites to delete your data — saving you hours of work. Plus, they can do it regularly, ensuring your confidential info doesn’t become public again.

Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.
Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about how much of your personal information is on the internet, it could be a good idea to get a VPN. VPNs encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, giving you online privacy and making sure you can’t be tracked or monitored around the web. If you haven’t used a VPN before, ExpressVPN is a safe option.
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Quick Guide: How to Remove Your Personal Information From the Internet

  1. Sign up for a data removal service. I recommend Incogni or DeleteMe as they reliably remove your personal information from the internet.
  2. Enter your details. Provide your information to help the algorithm scan for your data on the internet.
  3. Track deletion progress. Your chosen service will automatically request data brokers and sites to delete your information. You can track their progress and read regular reports via your service’s dashboard.

How to Remove Your Personal Information From the Internet: Complete Guide

1. Use a Data Removal Service

Specialized services exist that can help delete all mentions of your name, contact details, or other sensitive data on the internet for a reasonable fee. Here are two of the most reliable companies:

Incogni

Incogni automatically contacts sites to remove your personal information. This service covers all types of data brokers and people search sites and forces them to remove your information by citing international data protection laws. Read our full review here.

Screenshot of requests made to Incogni to remove personal information from the internetThe service lets you track the progress of each data removal request

DeleteMe

This service is similar to Incogni, except that DeleteMe also targets search engines. Another benefit it has over Incogni is that DeleteMe offers 24/7 live chat and email support, allowing you to get instant help whenever needed. However, it’s the far more expensive option. Check out our comprehensive review to learn more.

Screenshot of DeleteMe homepage with dashboardDeleteMe’s UI is clear and easy on the eye

2. Manually Request Data Brokers and Sites to Remove Your Info

Instead of using a service to automatically request data deletion, you can directly contact entities holding your data via their site or email. Just follow these steps:

  • Identify the sites and brokers that have your data. Searching your name online can reveal sites with your info. Or, you can search for your data on the biggest broker sites (listed on the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse site).
  • Follow the opt-out procedure. These sites nearly always offer procedures to allow consumers to request removal from their database. Some sites, like WhitePages, require you to sign in to request deletion, so make sure to use a throwaway email address.
  • Periodically repeat the process. New broker sites will continue to pop up and existing brokers can still collect your information even after you opt out. So be sure to perform this process regularly.
Screenshot of data brokers on Privacy RightsWithout specialized tools, you must contact each data broker and site manually

3. Stop Banks From Sharing Your Data

Banks collect your financial data, such as income and spending habits. They then often share some of this data with their affiliates or third parties, which can lead to unwanted solicitations. Fortunately, most banks have an opt-out process.

First, confirm your bank’s data-sharing practices by reading their privacy policy or by contacting their support service. If you aren’t happy with how they handle your data, you can usually adjust data sharing options in your account settings. Alternatively, you can contact the bank directly.

Screenshot of Bank of America's data sharing opt-out formThe Bank of America directed me to this opt-out form

4. Opt Out of Marketing Associations and Loyalty Programs

Retailers and their marketing associations collect data about your purchase histories, product preferences, and contacts. They use this information for targeted advertising campaigns. Worse yet, they often share your info with data brokers.

There are a couple of steps to getting this data removed. To start, identify retailers and loyalty programs that may be sharing your data by reading the privacy policies of the e-commerce platforms you use. Whenever you find one that is likely sharing your information, see if you can disable data sharing in your account settings. If this isn’t an option, contact the retailer directly.

Another alternative is to use consumer protection services, such as DMA Choice, YourAdChoices, and NAI. These services automate the opt-out process for you.

Screenshot of YourAdChoices data sharing opt-out screenThese services will save you a lot of time and effort

5. Close Unused Online Accounts

Rarely used accounts can become targets for cybercriminals and contribute to a cluttered digital presence. They contain usernames, passwords, and sometimes payment information that can be used to steal from you or commit fraud. Besides, any company that acquires the relevant service gets automatic access to any data associated with your account.

To fix this, I recommend listing all your unnecessary online accounts. Then, take a couple of hours to close these accounts. You can use services like Just Delete Me to speed up this process.

Image of the Just Delete Me account deletion directoryJust Delete Me also has a handy browser extension for Chrome

6. Delete or Clean Up Social Media

Social media networks hold a wealth of information about you, all of which can be sold (or used to sell things to you). Your location, friends list, and preferences are all used to create a comprehensive marketing profile. The only way to completely avoid this is by deleting your accounts. You also have the right to contact social media networks directly and ask them to delete all information they have stored on you.

If you don’t want to delete your account, here are some tips to avoid your personal information leaking from social media sites in the future:

  • Delete old posts. You can clean up your profile without deleting it completely. Facebook, for example, has a Limit Old Posts setting that prevents anyone from seeing your past activity.
  • Restrict data sharing. Opt out of ad and activity tracking along with data sharing on your account.
  • Turn off location tracking. Disable location tracking so your uploaded posts or photos don’t share your whereabouts.
Screenshot of Twitter's location privacy settingsOther social media networks have similar options
Pro Tip: The safest option regarding social media is to simply delete your accounts. Here are in-depth guides to deleting your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

7. Request Data Removal From Search Engine Results

Search engines like Google may display outdated or sensitive personal information on search results pages. They can also index personal details such as home addresses, family members, and employment history from various websites. Here are a few ways you can remove this information:

  • Contact the support team. For example, you can use the Google Help Center to directly request the removal of certain data related to yourself.
  • Use the Results about you tool. This tool lets you find and delete search results with your information. It can be found in your Google account settings, as described here.

Regardless of the method you choose, you should also request a cache refresh once you’ve received confirmation that your data has been deleted. This will stop the already-deleted information from continuing to show up in search results due to page caching.

Screenshot of Google's data removal sectionYou can also request the removal of copyrighted and illegal content

8. Remove Data From Google

Alongside its search engine, Google’s other services also collect a vast amount of data like your location, device information, and more. Luckily, you can limit the amount of activity that’s tracked and delete stored data in your Google Activity controls. I’d recommend the following:

  • Erase your data. Delete your data in the Web & App Activity section.
  • Set up data to delete automatically. It’s also a good idea to configure web, app, YouTube, and location data to delete automatically at set intervals.
  • Disable tracking. Turn off tracking to avoid your location and real-life movements being recorded by Google.
Image of the Google Activity tab's activity tracking settingsYou can disable tracking and remove data for specific apps or types of services
Pro Tip: If you just want to get rid of your old searches, check out this guide to deleting your Google search history.

9. Delete Info From Your Browser

Sites automatically upload cookie files to your browser that share information about your preferences with other sites. Similarly, browsers can store data about your device, operating systems, or search history. You can delete all of this information in your browser’s settings, usually under a name like Clear Browsing Data or Clear Cookies and Cache.

Here are some other tips to help you keep your browsing activity private:

  • Check if your browser is secure. You can use an online checker to see if your browser leaks your info.
  • Use a privacy-focused service. Secure browsers like Tor or Brave are designed with online privacy in mind.
  • Use a private browsing mode. Private modes, like Chrome’s Incognito, ensure your browsing information is never saved on your device. It also makes sure you’re logged out of social media sites, so social networks can’t track what you do and link it to your account.
  • Check websites before visiting. Privacy inspectors like Blacklight can scan pages to reveal user-tracking technologies, like cookies and spyware.
Screenshot of the Blacklight privacy inspectorUnfortunately, most sites will try to track you in one way or another

10. Delete Personally Identifiable Information on Blogs

Old blogs and comments may contain revealing names, opinions, and contact information. You should consider deleting them regularly to maintain privacy and avoid doxxing.

To do this, first identify sites with your content. Visit sites you used to use and check for any old information still present on the platform. If you’re having trouble remembering what sites you may have used in the past, try searching for your previous nicknames or other keywords linked to you. You can also look through old email accounts to see what services you were previously registered with.

From there, most platforms will allow you to edit or delete any revealing posts or comments. If you’re unable to do this for any reason, such as you can’t remember your login details or your personal information has been posted by another user, contact support or the site owner to request removal of the information. If you need to get in touch with the site owner, you can usually use the Contact Us page or search for the owner’s contact details on www.whois.com.

Screenshot of Whois identification serviceThe contact information can be found in the Registrant Email or Administrative Contact sections

11. Delete or Clean Unused Email Accounts

Unused email accounts may contain private information like communications, contacts, and personal data. It’s also common for old email addresses to have been compromised by data breaches, which is a huge problem if they’re still connected to accounts that store even more sensitive information. Because of these factors, I’d recommend deleting any unused email accounts.

Here are some tips for securing old accounts if you don’t want to delete them:

  • Check if your email address has been compromised. Use services like Have I Been Pwned to check if your email credentials were leaked due to a data breach.
  • Change your passwords. If your email address has been leaked, it’s crucial to change your password immediately to prevent any of your data from being further exposed.
  • Delete old emails. It’s good data hygiene to delete any emails you no longer need, as many of them will contain sensitive data.
Screenshot of Have I Been Pwned leak checkerSimply enter your email address to see if it has been compromised
Pro Tip: Gmail is a poor choice of email service if you’re concerned about privacy, as Google typically stores and shares your data. Check out these great alternatives to Gmail to find more privacy-minded options.

12. Uninstall Old Apps

Apps can store lots of data. Many of them request permissions to collect a wealth of information that isn’t actually necessary to the app’s functionality. Examples include a flashlight app requesting access to your contacts or a food delivery app requesting to use your camera. It’s best to delete any apps you no longer use, to ensure they no longer have access to your information.

It’s important to note that uninstalling old apps doesn’t necessarily mean all your data will be deleted too. You may still need to contact the app creator to ask them to erase any information they hold on you.

Screenshot of Meta data deletion requestIf you cannot contact the app owner, I’d recommend contacting Google or Apple for assistance

13. Delete Recordings on TVs and Smart Devices

Smart TVs and speakers use automated content recognition (ACR), which tracks the video and audio you consume to help craft personalized ads. They can also capture your location, app usage statistics, and voice samples. Go through your settings and delete any recordings to avoid them being used to target you.

Ideally, you should prevent the device from continuing to record you as well. For example, you can delete all your voice samples and disable recordings in the Account tab of the Google Home app.

Downsides of Removing Data Manually

While you may be tempted to manually remove your data from the internet so you don’t have to pay for a service, it takes more time and effort than many can spare. You have to search for your data across platforms, individually opt out of each service, and contact every relevant company to request information deletion. Besides, many services purposefully complicate the process with lengthy opt-out procedures.

Even worse, you have to monitor your personal information at all times. Online services and apps often update their privacy policies or keep tracking you even after deleting your data. In addition, data brokers may continue aggregating your information even after you opt out (or new sites may take their place).

It’s much easier to use an automated service like Incogni or DeleteMe to remove your personal data from the internet. Although you have to pay for these services, they do all the hard work for you — regularly searching for and deleting your information.

FAQs on How to Remove Personal Information From the Internet

What is PII (Personally Identifiable Information)?

Personally identifiable information means data that can be used to identify you. It includes sensitive data like your full name, address, Social Security number, or medical records. It can also include indirect information, such as zip code, gender, or date of birth. You should regularly erase your PII from the internet to prevent data theft, fraud, online harassment, or other cyber threats.

What should I do before removing my information?

Identify all sources that hold your data first. Of course, you can skip all this work by outsourcing the information removal to specialized tools like Incogni. To do it manually though, search for your info on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • First name, last name, and middle name
  • Physical address (current and previous)
  • Contact data (phones and emails)
  • Education and training institutions
  • Websites and blogs you posted on
  • Combinations of the information above

How much does it cost to get my personal information removed from the Internet?

You can remove your information for free, but it's long and tedious. Luckily, online services like Incogni can be fairly affordable. Subscription prices typically range from $6 to $30 per month.

Who can use the personal information found on data broker sites?

Anyone willing to pay. This includes marketers, lending companies, law enforcement agencies, and identity thieves. You should regularly delete your data from public databases to avoid spam, online fraud, or harassment.

How do websites get my personal information?

Sites collect your data via cookies, along with your IP addresses, purchase histories, social media, and public records. Online services often share this information with ad networks and data brokers. However, you’re within your rights to request that this information be deleted.

Which privacy laws protect my data?

Privacy laws vary based on your region and type of information. The most cited when it comes to removing personal information from the internet include GDPR, CCP, PIPEDA, and HIPAA. These laws are used by data removal services to force sites into deleting your personal information.

How do I remove my email from the dark web (darknet)?

Removing leaked data from the dark web is difficult — these sites hide their owners and have no central authority. If you detect that your email address was leaked, you should link all your online accounts to a new email and change their credentials. You should then delete the compromised email account.

Can I remove personal information from the internet for free?

You can send data removal requests to websites, data brokers, and online services yourself. Still, this means paying with hours of your time and you may accidentally miss sites with your data. Paid services like Incogni and DeleteMe make things a bit easier.

Keep Your Personal Information Private Online

By understanding the type of data collected by various entities, you can methodically delete all your information from the internet. It’s possible to contact both data brokers and individual companies to request that they remove your personal information from the internet.

That said, the process can be very time-consuming. Specialized services like Incogni and DeleteMe automate data removal — making it much easier to keep your personal data off the internet.

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Georgii Chanturidze is a Senior Writer at vpnMentor with a knack for VPNs, cloud services, and anti-malware tools. He meticulously researches and tests services for vpnMentor’s readers, providing valuable, accurate information.

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