Data Brokers Operate “Data Removal” Websites (In Secret)
Data removal websites may actually be selling your information. We investigated and found connections between those who sell your data and those who promise to remove it.
We know that data brokers are selling your home address, phone numbers, emails, and interests. You’ve likely seen some of these data broker sites if you Google your name and city. You probably didn’t know that those very websites operate ‘sister businesses’ under different names — they offer to remove your information from data brokers (for a fee).
Here are the top questionable connections we discovered in our research.
IDStrong is owned by one of the largest data brokers
IDStrong promises to remove you from data brokers and protect your identity. But we noticed the IDStrong website is eerily similar to one of the most popular data web broker sites — InfoTracer. IDStrong appears to be directly owned by a data broker parent company.
Take a look at the pictures and you’ll note that the structure of the websites are nearly identical. Moreover, the copyright notices at the bottom of each page lead back to the same company — InfoPay, Incorporated. Both IDStrong and Infotracer are owned and operated by the parent company, InfoPay.
On their parent website, InfoPay claims: “Our database is constantly being updated to ensure businesses and consumers have access to the most accurate public information available. We gather records from municipal, county, state, federal and private sources; allowing our clients to save time and search instantly.”
The IDStrong website makes no obvious mention that they’re actually owned by the very data broker they claim to remove you from (again, for a fee). Their customer support phone numbers, addresses, and contact information are all different. There appears to be a concerted effort to disguise the connection.
OneRep is reportedly connected to Belarus-based data broker Nuwber
OneRep’s ties to the data broker Nuwber were publicly documented in 2017, when PrivacyDuck did a deep dive into the disturbing dealings of this Belarus-based company. The PrivacyDuck page is now gone but we’ve dug through the web archives to quote their founder:
“OneRep.com began offering privacy removal services right alongside their own open displays of your personal information. At this point when you found yourself on Nuwber.com OR OneRep.com, you would be provided with the option of opting-out your data on their site for free — but also be highly encouraged to pay them to remove it from a slew of other sites (and part of that payment was removing you from their own site, Nuwber.com, as a benefit of their service).
OneRep.com quit displaying your information in late 2017; we suspect this was a result of very aggressive pursuit of their contradictions on YouTube and elsewhere. They rely on Nuwber.com for that now — which equally feeds into the same “bait and switch” scam. Bottom line: You shouldn’t be paying a company to remove your personal information when they were the ones displaying it in the first place.” — PrivacyDuck
Multiple comments on consumer forums confirm the sketchy behavior from OneRep. One person wrote “OneRep is an unethical company. When you search for your information they use the very information you enter to show your information on a number of other sites. I tested this by entering a false age and location, and that showed up as if it was on 21 other sites”
OneRep may have a slick interface, but they’re operating an elaborate bait and switch program that ends up exposing your information on data broker websites.
The Privacy Bee CEO spent his career as a data broker
Privacy Bee claims to be a “unique, proactive service to derisk your privacy before it’s too late”. Provide them your email address for a free scan and you’ll be sent to a paywall screen that appears to use recycled info from the free site haveibeenpwned.com. We did some digging to find out who was behind PrivacyBee.
Entrepreneur Harry Maungus joined PrivacyBee in 2021, after 9 years of working as a data broker himself. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mangus previously founded Clickagy, a company that claims to track 1.5 billion devices per month.
Don’t believe me? Check out their website–it’s pretty creepy. clickagy.com
In 2020, Clickagy was sold to ZoomInfo, one of the most valuable data brokers in the United States, for an undisclosed amount. After spending a year at ZoomInfo (presumably doing his earn out), Maungus joined the newly-formed Privacy Bee.
It’s very possible that Mangus has learned the errors of his ways and simply wanted to leave the dark-side of being a data broker. But it’s also possible that Privacy Bee maintains their close connections to the data broker industry. We’re not taking the chance.
Is Atlas connected to any data brokers?
Funny you ask. The short answer is: No, absolutely not.
We started Atlas to provide an ethical privacy lifeline in a sea of less-than-honest companies. We’re one of the few data removal companies that is in no way connected to data brokers. Our business is privacy–not selling your data.
Our funding comes from our founders, YCombinator, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and many happy customers who subscribe to our privacy services. If you want to safely remove yourself from data brokers you can sign up at atlasweb.com to get started.