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Why has my removals progress gone backwards, stalled or declined?

During the first few months of a paid Optery subscription, customer profiles are rapidly removed from the data brokers. Customers typically see more than 50% of their exposed profiles are Removed / Not found within 30 days. However, removing profiles from data brokers is an ongoing effort and, unfortunately, a bit of a whack-a-mole game. This is partly why our paid plans are billed on monthly and annual subscription terms, and not sold as one-time purchases.

After a few months as a paid Optery subscriber, you might see progress stall, or even go backwards or decline sometimes. You might also see a large number of data brokers in a “Pending” state, even after you’ve been a customer for several months. At a very high level this is because Optery performs fresh scans for paying customers and we “start from scratch” on opt outs every month re-setting data brokers to a “Pending” state before the fresh scan and removals.

For example, after the 4th month as a customer you might see yourself at 90% Removed / Not Found, and 10% Exposed. But then after the 5 month, you might be surprised (or even upset!) to see you're now only 80% Removed / Not Found, and 20% exposed, and several data brokers reverted back to a "Pending" state, i.e. your progress has actually gone backward and declined!

This is normal, and happens sometimes... But why?

Optery data broker opt out software removals and exposure dashboard

Optery's approach to data broker opt outs and removals utilizes a combination of "Humans + Machines" - this means we use both the most advanced opt out technology in the world, combined with expertly trained privacy professionals, to remove as many exposed profiles from data brokers as possible, as quickly as possible.

Unlike many of our competitors, who perform opt outs once every several months, Optery performs automated scans and removals monthly (i.e. every 30 days). This means that every month, we start from scratch, and do fresh scans and removals to ensure a high bar of quality is maintained and we're constantly searching and removing customer profiles on an ongoing basis.

Because of this approach, and the most common reasons below, sometimes removals progress will go backwards or decline on a month to month basis:

Optery is continually adding and removing data brokers from our list of covered data brokers. Each time we change our list of data brokers, that can affect your exposure status percentage. For example, let's say in month 3 you've been marked Removed / Not Found for 180 out of 200 data brokers covered, that's 90% Removed / Not Found, and 10% Exposed. Then, let's say in month 4 we drop coverage for 20 data brokers that have been shut down or gone out of business, and also add coverage for 20 new data brokers, and then run a new scan. You might now see your yourself marked Removed / Not Found for 160 out of 200 data brokers covered, that's 80% Removed / Not Found, and 10% Exposed. Because of the data brokers changes, your exposure protection on a percentage basis has now gone backwards and declined.

Data brokers are well known to re-publish profiles even after they've been removed or opt-ed out. In fact, many data brokers, after you've opted out of them, display a confirmation message stating that opt outs are often over-written, lost or forgotten, and they encourage you to check back often and re-submit your opt out if you find your profile has been re-populated again. This is something Optery has no control over, and is common especially after about 6 months. This is why manual-only approaches do not work well, and you must continue re-scanning monthly to identify and remove new profiles that reappear.

The personal data at data brokers is not perfect and is constantly changing. Many of these data broker companies are shady outfits with poor quality controls and low integrity. The information data brokers display about people is not always clean, is often poorly structured, is frequently error prone, and is constantly changing - each of these factors can cause reporting discrepancies from month to month where one month a profile is found, and then the next month it is gone, and then the next month it reappears again.

Sometimes data brokers have multiple different profiles for a single individual, and after an initial scan or removal, a subsequent scan turns up new profiles that were not removed the first time, and then when our opt out processing runs again, we attempt to remove those newly discovered profiles as well.

Optery's data broker scanning and opt out processing software is constantly being improved and updated on a weekly basis. Finding your profiles among the billions of other profiles data brokers are posting online is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Sometimes our scanning technology misses a profile one month, and then an improvement is made in our search technology's detection and matching algorithms, and then in a subsequent scan, a new profile is found that we had missed previously.

For each of the reasons listed above, it is not uncommon for removals progress to decline or go backwards sometimes, but the net effect of keeping your Optery subscription active on an ongoing basis is more thorough and comprehensive removals over time.

Updated on: 08/12/2023

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