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Your personal data has been breached, now what? Enter: Incogni

No, we’re not referring to your browser’s “incognito” mode, I’m talking about Surfshark’s new “get my data off the market” service called Incogni. It’s fantastic and before I tell you what Incogni does and how it works, let me tell you why it exists.

Incogni logo

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Data Brokers be damned, Incogni is coming for you

Beyond public records, your data is collected in so many ways now thanks to the internet. You know when you go on a website and it asks you about cookies? Yeah, that’s your data, and they’re annoyingly prompting you to hand it to them. Apps you use, stores where you’ve made purchases (online or IRL), profiles you make on various social media platforms, all that information is just floating around on the internet.

Data brokers do this scary thing where they scrape the web and collect data from all of these sources, aggregate them, trade them, and create complete “shadow profiles” of us. Why? Because companies and institutions are buying them for various reasons.

In fact, there’s a whole slew of Data Broker types:

  • Marketing data brokers (browsing habits, interests, purchases)
  • Recruitment data brokers (personal info used for background screening by HR officers)
  • Risk mitigation brokers (criminal, background, and other, important for investment and business)
  • People search brokers (contact details , extensive profiles, background info)
  • Financial information brokers (financial data used by banks and credit companies to build your credit score)
  • Health information data brokers (health data sold to healthcare field for targeted ads and even insurance companies)

What is a Shadow Profile?

Shadow profiles are what data brokers create based on all the personal information that they gather and trade with one-another about you. The amount of detail varies for an individual’s shadow profile but that doesn’t mean it won’t grow if you don’t step in or take precautions.

A shadow profile can include details on your:

  • Name, age, and location
  • Marital status, children, and relatives
  • Health issues
  • Political affiliations
  • Religion, ethnicity, and race
  • Employment history and education
  • Financial history and property records
  • Travel plans and shopping habits
shadow profile details


What can Data Brokers do with my Shadow Profile?

Other than trading them with other data brokers to form more complete shadow profiles, data brokers sell these profiles to insurance companies, banks, businesses, and sometimes even governments. Those institutions may use this information for purposes for which you have not provided informed consent, such as:

  • Insurance companies setting higher insurance rates with no explanation due to health-related online searches
  • Bank loans and credit cards negatively affected or denied due to your financial history profile
  • Illegal identity theft where your credentials are being used to make big purchases
  • Lottery scammers targeting you after you signed up for a loyalty program
  • Companies influencing you through strategic manipulation to purchase products you wouldn’t otherwise
  • Political ads targeting you due to your demographic and personal information

So, what does Incogni do?

Incogni has automated a way to legally get your data out of the data broker’s hands, preventing them from trading it with other brokers or selling it to companies. They also follow up and redo any opt-out processes regularly to make sure your data has not been re-added to the market.

If it were up to you to do that manually, well, I don’t even know where I would start, but Incogni’s research estimates it would take us around 304 hours of work to look up which brokers have our data, contact them, and complete the opt-out process for each.

How does Incogni work?

They essentially have a growing list of active data brokers (currently 146 data brokers) to whom they send removal requests on your behalf.

The steps:

  1. After subscribing for Incogni’s services and granting them the right to work for you, they immediately send out the requests.
  2. It generally takes 1 week for the first brokers to respond and, within a month, most data removal requests are processed.
  3. Incogni sends you updates every week on the progress but you can also check it on your account dashboard.
  4. As new data brokers are added to Incogni’s list, data removal requests are sent out.
  5. The removal request process is repeated regularly to ensure data does not re-enter the market

They currently work in the US, Canada, UK, EU, and Switzerland, following data privacy compliance regimes to retrieve your data including the CCPA, PIPEDA, and GDPR.

Incogni Pricing

Subscription is available to US, UK, EU, Swiss, and Canadian residents.

They offer monthly and yearly pricing options and allow you to cancel your subscription at any time.

Monthly: $11.49 USD

Yearly: $69.48 USD billed immediately, equivalent to $5.79/mo

Try Incogni and Take Control of Your Data Privacy

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