This is a guest post from Aaron Kelley, director of consultations in our Caribbean office.
We have all heard of the many new companies which offer to remove our unwanted online data. Most simply want a quick buck to cash in on the popularity of privacy. We have always discouraged the use of these services for two reasons. First, they never remove everything. If your home address is on 27 websites, and a service removes 26 of them, I only need to see the one page they missed to get your information. The second reason is that it is always best to do this yourself. You will recognize sensitive data that will be missed by the service which you hired. Today, we present a third reason we suggest avoiding these services: Doxxing.
This week, we received an email from a data removal company called NetScrubbers. They demanded that we remove any data which we stored about their client. They disclosed the following to us, which we redacted for the privacy of their client.
This company was hired by an individual to clean up their online presence. Instead, they sent the full name, email address, age, cell number, current home address, previous home address, business affiliations, and social media profiles of the person to thousands of email addresses. They scoured the person's email account for anyone who they communicated with and sent a generic removal request. In other words, they published more details than were previously available.
We had no contact with their customer, so I did some digging. I was finally able to associate the Gmail address with a business which had contacted us a year ago about our services. Their customer used an alias name for privacy, but NetScrubbers disclosed enough real information about their client to connect us to their alias.
Please avoid these types of companies. They do more harm than good. If you truly want to clean up your online data, use our free guide.