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How to Stop Companies from Selling Your Data

October 3, 2023

If you want to know how to stop companies from selling your data, you’ve come to the right place.

Although not every company you interact with or do business with will sell your data, some will. Depending on where your information ends up, this can result in more targeted ads and scams and increase your likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft. It can also raise your cybersecurity risks, like clicking on malware in a targeted phishing email. 

This guide will show you how to regain control of your online privacy and stop companies from selling your data. 

How to Stop Companies from Selling Your Data

If you are concerned about companies or apps selling your data, follow this guide to keep your information protected and out of the hands of marketers and other third parties, including hackers and scammers. 

Opt out of data brokers

Data brokers are the primary culprits when it comes to trading in your personal information. 

Data brokers are companies that collect your personal information from various online sources (like social media and public records), combine it into a single profile, and then sell it to more or less anyone with a credit card. 

It’s a good business model. The data brokerage industry is estimated to be worth around $200 billion per year. But your data as an individual isn’t expensive. Data broker profiles can go for as little as $1. Some are offered for free. 

A typical data broker profile can include sensitive information such as:

  • Your full name.
  • Aliases.
  • Home address.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address. 
  • Education history.
  • Employment. 
  • Family details. 
  • Social media accounts.
  • …and more! 

Here’s an example of a data broker profile:

Example of a data broker profile

There is no limit to who data brokers might sell your data to. This includes marketers looking to run targeted ads, financial institutions assessing credit risks, and other data brokers.

Not all information data brokers have about you will be correct, but that is no reason to rejoice. In the past, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined two data brokers for providing employers with data that suggested employees were potentially sex offenders. 

Good to know: Once “big” data brokers like Acxiom, Spokeo, Epsilon, Experian, and Equifax acquire your information, there is no telling what sources will get their hands on your personal details. 

But you’re not entirely powerless. Many data brokers offer opt-out mechanisms that allow individuals to remove their information from these sites’ databases. 

Something to note is that the opt-out process varies from one broker to the next. For step-by-step instructions on opting out from some of the biggest data brokers on the market today, follow our free opt-out guides.

Popular guides include:

You won’t be able to just opt out once. Data brokers relist people’s data when they collect more of it. 

For this reason, you will need to opt out of data brokers regularly. If you’d rather not have to opt out of data brokers manually, you can subscribe to a data broker removal service such as DeleteMe. Read reviews of DeleteMe service here

Read the privacy policy

The best way to determine if a company sells your data is to check its privacy policy. 

A privacy policy is a legal document that tells you how a company collects, uses, manages, and discloses your data. It’s a requirement for all companies to publish a public privacy policy for consumers to access. 

Good to know: Just because a company has a public privacy policy does not mean it respects your data or won’t share it with third parties. Yet that’s something that up to 73% of American adults believe. 

In an ideal world, everyone would take the time to read a company’s privacy policy before interacting with it/signing up for an account/using its services. In reality, the vast majority of people never read the privacy policy. 

Most people are just not bothered. But it’s also true that privacy policies are “an incomprehensible disaster” – a conclusion The New York Times reached after reading 150 privacy policies. 

One solution is to use Terms of Service; Didn’t Read, a community project that analyzes and grades major internet services and companies’ privacy policies. 

For example, Google gets a Grade E because they do heavy tracking. In fact, they can collect data about you and store it even if you don’t interact with their services. In the past, they’ve also faced backlash over data breaches.  

Google rating on Terms of Service; Didn't Read community project

Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo gets a Grade A. They do not store your data or allow online tracking. 

DuckDuckGo rating on Terms of Service; Didn't Read community project

Google is well-known for its user data collection and tracking. On the other hand, DuckDuckGo was created to give users back their privacy. These privacy grades reflect that. 

Good to know: Other companies that get poor privacy grades include Apple Services (D), Amazon (E), Microsoft Services, LinkedIn (E), and the vast majority of social networks. 

With Terms of Service; Didn’t Read, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing what a company’s privacy policy says. You can quickly see what grade it gets before using it. 

Take advantage of privacy laws

Depending on where you live, various privacy laws might give you the right to ask companies to delete your data or prevent them from selling it to third parties. 

Although there isn’t a federal privacy law in place in the US (i.e., a GDPR-equivalent), the following states have comprehensive privacy laws:

  • California: California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). 
  • Colorado: Colorado Privacy Act.
  • Connecticut: Connecticut Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring Act 
  • Delaware: Delaware Personal Data Privacy Act
  • Indiana: Indiana Consumer Data Protection Act
  • Iowa: Iowa Consumer Data Protection Act
  • Montana: Montana Consumer Data Privacy Act
  • Oregon: Oregon Consumer Privacy Act
  • Tennessee: Tennessee Information Protection Act
  • Texas: Texas Data Privacy and Security Act
  • Utah: Utah Consumer Privacy Act
  • Virginia: Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act 

Note that some of the laws are yet to go into effect. For example, in Indiana, the Indiana Data Consumer Protection Act won’t go into effect until the 1st of January, 2026. 

Tip: You can track US state privacy laws via the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) legislation tracker

Read our how-to guide to learn how to ask companies to remove your personal information from their systems. 

You can also look for a company’s “Do not sell my personal information” notice and link on their website. 

Other Steps You Can Take to Stop Companies from Selling Your Data

The best way to stop companies from selling your data is not to give it to them in the first place.

To do that, you need to be more mindful of your online activity. Don’t overshare on social media or other places online, use a VPN or a privacy-focused search engine that does not collect information about you, and take the time to remove any personal data you’ve shared online to date. 

Laura Martisiute is DeleteMe’s content marketing specialist. Her job is to help DeleteMe communicate vital privacy information to the people that need it. Since joining DeleteMe in 2020, Laura h…

Don’t have the time?

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