In late 2022, financial services company Discover introduced “Online Privacy Protection,” a new tool that removes Discover customers’ personal data from 10 select people search websites.
People search sites, also known as people finder sites and data brokers, are public-facing websites that collect (from public documents, social media, etc.) and sell people’s personal information—including their names, phone numbers, addresses, interests, and familial relationships—without their consent. Often without their knowledge.
As a way to opt out of 10 such sites, Discover Online Privacy Protection offering can help Discover customers minimize the amount of personal information that shows up when someone Googles their name.
But Discover Online Privacy Protection is not a comprehensive data broker removal solution. It removes some data from the web but leaves a lot more untouched.
Keep reading to learn more about Discover Online Privacy Protection, its shortcomings, and how you can fill in the gaps it leaves.
Discover Online Privacy Protection: What You Need to Know
Discover Online Privacy Protection is a tool that removes individuals from people search sites. It is available to all customers with a Discover credit card or bank account.
To use the tool, customers must download and sign into the Discover mobile app (via the Apple app store or, for Android users, Google Play Store). Only people 18 years or older can avail of Discover Online Privacy Protection.
Once customers enroll in Online Privacy Protection, Discover will use a third-party service to look for their information on 10 people search sites, based on the information that Discover already has on them.
Online Privacy Protection removes personal information from the following people search sites:
The sites which Discover Online Privacy Protection removes customers from can change at any time and without notice, as per Discover’s terms and conditions.
Scans run about every 90 days as long as users remain enrolled in the free tool and their accounts are in good standing, according to Discover’s FAQ.
If a Discover customer’s personal info is found on any of these sites, an opt-out request is automatically issued on their behalf. Customers can see the opt-out progress being made on a dashboard on the Discover app.
What Discover Online Privacy Protection Misses
Discover Online Privacy Protection covers 10 people search sites, but the number of people search sites that hold individuals’ data is much bigger than that.
Some of the more popular people search sites that Discover doesn’t remove from include:
- And more.
For comparison sake, DeleteMe removes personal information from at least 38 data broker and people search sites, but our custom options allow data removal from an extra 500 sites (you can see the full list here). Moreover, unlike many other data broker removal services that are fully automated, DeleteMe’s human experts are always on hand to help customers with removals in any way they need.
Even though Discover might delete your name off Spokeo or Intelius, someone would still be able to find you on one of the other common people search sites. All they have to do is Google your name or search in these data broker databases.
Additionally, Discover doesn’t cover people under 18 years old. People search sites do.
Even though many people search sites claim they don’t hold data on minors, the reality is that kids’ information is frequently available on these databases.
People Search Sites Deserve Your Full Attention
Many people search sites are free or sell data for a very small fee, so anyone can find out a lot of information about you.
When we say a lot, we mean it.
In the 10+ years we’ve been in the data broker removal business, we have seen the amount of data that people search sites and brokers hold about individuals skyrocket.
For example, in 2019, we found and removed about 255 pieces of personal information per DeleteMe customer from people search sites and data brokers. This number is now closer to 490 pieces of information. In the next few years, we expect to see the data brokers we cover holding at least 1,000 pieces of personal information per person.
The kind of data that appears on people search sites and data brokers is also becoming more detailed.
In the past, these sites held mostly “directory-style” information, like names, phone numbers, and addresses. As we spend more of our time online and share more data with various different services, this information has evolved to include things like past residences, employment, and details about our relationships. Many people search sites also include marriage, court, and arrest records.
Information on people search sites is not always correct. But data brokers have become better at cross-referencing it.
This makes people search sites an excellent resource for spammers, scammers, identity thieves, and stalkers.
According to hundreds of guides online, people search sites are also useful for:
- Employers: to ensure they hire reliable individuals.
- People looking for flatmates: to verify the person they will split rent with has a good record.
- Property buyers: to make sure the seller has a good track record.
In other words, not only do people search sites increase your risk of identity theft, stalking, and scams, but they can also affect your daily life. Who knows, maybe that time you didn’t get that job you were going for had something to do with your profile on one of the numerous people search sites. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.
Level Up Your Personal Information Protection
Discover Online Privacy Protection is a great tool. It helps raise awareness about the data broker problem. And it removes Discover customers from 10 common people finder sites.
We encourage everyone eligible for Discover Online Privacy Protection to sign up for it, but not to make it the last thing they do to protect their privacy.
For individuals interested in taking their personal information privacy seriously and removing their data from more than just the 10 people search sites offered by Discover and/or protecting their family members, there are two options:
- Opting out of people search sites themselves (here’s our guide on how to do that).
- Subscribing to a dedicated data broker removal service.