General questions about privacy protection scans

Mozilla Monitor Mozilla Monitor Last updated: 02/22/2024

What are data brokers and what do they do?

Data brokers, also known as information brokers, are businesses that collect, expose, and sell personal information or PII (personally identifiable information) of anyone they can, often without their consent. This PII could include an enormous amount of personal details, including your legal name, email address, home address, phone numbers, previous home addresses, family information, financial details, health details, browsing history, purchase history, and more. They use sophisticated methods to collect this information, often without your knowledge or consent. Many of these data brokers will package and sell the data they’ve collected to third parties, profiting from your information and leaving you open to violations of your privacy and security.

What are the different types of data brokers?

There are thousands of data brokers that make up an estimated $240 billion dollar industry, and include people search sites, marketing brokers, financial information brokers, and health information brokers.

What kind of information do data brokers collect?

Data brokers collect whatever information about you that they can: legal name, email address, home address, phone numbers, previous home addresses, family information, financial details, health details, browsing history, purchase history, and more. With this information, they’ll create a profile about who they think you are, and will continually update your profile as they get new information about you. Then they may package your profile up with similar profiles, and sell it for a profit.

How do data brokers get my information?

Data brokers can collect information about you in many different ways. They may find it in government and public records such as real estate transactions, court records, marriage certificates, and business licenses. They may purchase it from other sites, such as an app or social media site that you use or a loyalty program you’ve signed up for. They may also pay companies to place trackers directly on sites to gather information about your online habits. This shows just how important it is to reduce your digital footprint and take steps to protect your online privacy.

What can data brokers do with my personal information?

Many data brokers are in the business of selling your personal information or PII (personally identifiable information) – and that’s what they’ll do. This can lead to serious consequences.

When your contact information and browsing history is sold, it can lead to more spam emails, robocalls, and junk text messages. And in a worst-case scenario, you could become a victim of identity theft and fraud. Even if a data broker doesn’t sell your information, they are an attractive target for hackers, which could compromise your information and put you at risk. One major example is the 2018 security breach of Apollo, a sales engagement startup with a database of 200 million contacts at 10 million companies. This security breach exposed the names, job titles, employers, social media handles, phone numbers, and email addresses of 200 million people. This breach is a great example of how you can protect yourself by getting off of data broker’s lists in the first place. The less people who have access to your data, the better.

How do I manually remove my personal information from data broker sites?

Most data brokers will allow you to manually request removal of your personal information from their site, and the process varies from site to site. Some may have an opt-out form online, while others may require you to mail a letter.

Start by visiting the site of the data broker who has published your information and search for removal or opt-out instructions. You’ll have to make a separate removal request for every data broker site you want to opt out of.

Remember that this process does not remove your information from available public records, it only removes it from this website. So even after your information is removed, you may have to repeat the process periodically. Some sites will re-purchase or find your information from another source, meaning they could add you back to their site again in the future. If you’d like Monitor to handle these removal requests on your behalf, and continually monitor to make sure they don’t add you back to their list, you can upgrade to Monitor Plus.

How can Mozilla Monitor help remove my personal information from data broker sites?

We search for your personal information across 35 major broker sites, and show you the information that each has collected about you. Then we can help you remove it.

Removing your information from data broker sites is typically a time-consuming, on-going manual process. Once you identify which data brokers are storing your information, you’ll need to contact each data broker and request that they remove your profile. However, even if your data was removed from one of these sites, it may reappear at a later date if they find or purchase new information about you. Data brokers and people search sites regularly collect data, and removal of your information does not necessarily prevent many of these sites from adding it again later.

For customers of our Monitor Plus premium service, Mozilla Monitor can do this for you. Once a record is found, we’ll automatically send a removal request and follow up with the site to track the status of the removal. We’ll continually monitor these sites to make sure they don’t add you back to their list. And if they do, we’ll take care of it for you.

How long does it take for Mozilla Monitor to remove my information from data broker sites?

As soon as we identify which data brokers have your information, we get to work requesting removal. Removals can take some time depending on the responsiveness of the data broker or people search site, and the steps they have set up for processing a removal. Removals typically take 7-14 days but some can take up to a month or even more. You may also start to see removals happening within the same day. It’s an ongoing process and you can rest assured that no matter how many times your name reappears on their site, we will work to remove it on your behalf.

From which data broker sites does Mozilla Monitor remove my data?

We currently remove personal data from 35 of the most common data broker sites which are most likely to have your information, with more to come in the future.

Does Mozilla Monitor remove my information from Google Search?

No, we can’t remove your personal data from search engines like Google or even social media sites like Facebook. In general, we cannot remove your information from services where you’ve signed up for an account, or from government websites that have publicly-available information. However, removing your personal data from data brokers will help reduce how much of it appears in search results.

Why do you need my personal information?

We ask for your personal information so we can search for it on data broker sites. We only use this data in order to find where it’s being exposed on these sites. We never sell your information and our Personal Data Promise means we implement security measures to keep your personal info safe, and design products that prioritize your privacy.

I’ve lived in multiple places. What address should I use?

You should use your most recent address. Data brokers may have collected multiple addresses for you, so even if you only add your most recent address, you may find records of places you’ve lived in the past. Adding your phone number and birthday can help improve the accuracy of your results by reducing the chance of you finding profiles of people with the same name as you.

In which countries is data broker removal available?

This feature is available only for Mozilla Monitor customers in the United States.

How much does Mozilla Monitor cost?

Mozilla Monitor offers a free basic service and a paid subscription, which costs $4.99 per month.

What do the different statuses mean in my privacy protection scan?

“Exposed” means that the data broker is currently publishing and potentially selling your information. “Removals in progress” means that our automated removal process is underway. “Removed” means that we have successfully removed your information from the data broker site.

Why do I see my information on a data broker site that Monitor had already removed me from?

Data brokers and people search sites regularly collect data from different sources. Removal of your information does not prevent these sites from adding it again later, if they find or purchase your information from a new source. This is why we do monthly scans for exposures of personal information for our Premium users. We make sure your information is removed, and make sure it stays that way.

What happens when I unsubscribe from Monitor Plus?

Your information will be deleted, which means you will no longer be able to see your privacy protection results, and you’ll no longer receive breach monitoring for 10 emails. Your monthly privacy protection scans will end, and any removals that are in progress will be canceled. You will still have access to a free account, which allows you to monitor 1 email.

Why is data removal only available in the US? When will it be available in my country?

Data removal is only available in the US because of legislation that allows data brokers to operate there. Many other countries are protected by local laws that prohibit data brokers from selling and publishing information. At this time we don’t have plans to expand to other countries.

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