In a world dominated by internet searches and online identities, one might agree that the only true freedom is anonymity. You might not know this, but as you go about your daily routine, countless online entities are on the lookout for your digital footprint. This footprint can be used by data brokers in nefarious ways against you. Data brokers indulge in multiple intrusive tactics including buying and selling your personal information like contact details and addresses to closely monitor your browsing habits. Data brokers even go as far as to build a complete advertising profile which is then sold to the highest bidder. Upon reading this, you might be concerned as to what to do about this, how to safeguard your online identity, and become anonymous. Enter Incogni, Surfshark’s latest tool to simplify the process towards online freedom. But what is Incogni, and how do you use it? Well, I have been using Incogni for some time now, and here’s my experience with this website.
Surfshark Incogni: Delete Your Digital Footprint (2022)
What is Incogni?
Developed by the team behind Surfshark, Incogni is a data removal tool that removes users’ personal information from data brokers (explained below) for you. Incogni’s database of data brokers is large and goes into the dozens. This includes high-scale data brokers that most deletion services don’t cover.
Incogni also deals in marketing, health, and financial brokers, so you can stop receiving those pesky messages or not have your insurance premium suddenly increase. Incogni also plans on covering people search brokers soon, so that’s all the better for the privacy of your online identity. While Incogni is not the only service that contacts data brokers for you, most other services do a half-hearted job and leave a lot of the hard work to you. Thankfully, everything is automated in this case, as Incogni handles all the data requests from start to finish.
But why should you trust Incogni over any other service? Well, if you have heard of the popular VPN service, Surfshark VPN, and its amazing performance, you will be glad to know that Incogni is built by the very same team who have extensive experience in cybersecurity. So rest assured, your data, or in this case, the lack of it is safe with them. Moreover, if you’re worried about handing your personal details over to Incogni, it would come as a relief that the company operates in Canada according to the PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents) Act. So yeah, there would no information mishandling.
I know you are eager to check out the service and learn how to use Incogni. And I will show you how to go about everything you need to do from your end, but first, let’s talk about what data brokers are.
Hold on, What Is a Data Broker?
To simplify it for you, data brokers are online entities that specialize in gathering your data and building your online profile. The intention behind building such a profile is to get an intricate idea of who you are as a person online and what kind of websites or services you are most susceptible to. However, a lot of data collection is required for this. As such, data brokers collect a plethora of information about you. This can range from something as simple as your name to more delicate data such as your Social Security Number, billing information, and even your exact browsing habits. In many cases, data brokers also possess your address which is freaky.
This data is then sold to marketers, who use it to display the kinds of advertisements that frequently freak you out when you see how much they resemble your personality and choices. However, it doesn’t stop there. The telemarketing or scam calls you receive, your details being leaked online, and much worse, your identity being stolen, are all use of your digital footprint.
What’s shocking is that data brokers require no informed consent from users to do this. Data brokers gather your online dust of free will. From the time you visit a website and accept cookies, to downloading an app, all of your information is scraped and collected.
While regulations like the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the US are meant to protect your online data rights, the reach of data brokers across the Internet is vast, making the entire process tedious. In fact, Incogni estimates that it will take 300+ hours for an individual to remove every single trace of their information from all the data broker’s databases.
After considering all the above factors, it’s easy to understand why one would need to rely on tools like Incogni to delete all intrusive data collected by data brokers and safeguard their online identity.
What Sets Incogni Apart?
Incogni is one of the few data removal tools out there that have made it extremely easy to gain back your privacy. Naturally, it does take time, but the comfort that comes out of knowing your data is your own again is good. However, besides that, there are many ways Incogni makes life easier. Some of these are:
1. Covers a much wider range of brokers
Incogni covers a wide range of brokers that basically takes care of almost all data categories in your life. So no matter which broker has it, it’s almost all covered with this tool. However, what’s even better is that instead of being focused on just the US, Incogni covers the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Switzerland, so customers from a wide variety of regions can easily use it and get control of their online identity. Sadly, folks from other regions will need to wait a while to use this service.
2. In-Depth monitoring of data removal
While Incogni does come with the trust of Surfshark behind it, how do you know the data the service requested is actually being removed? Thankfully, Incogni provides a well-designed dashboard for that.
It is through here this dashboard that a user can monitor a wide variety of parameters, including the name of the broker, data sensitivity, category, number of requests sent/ replies to, and even the removal status. So if you are a user anxious about that, you can keep checking back the dashboard for constant updates.
3. Keeps pursuing leads even after subscription expiry
Data removal is not something that any company can do overnight. Even the data brokers, once served a request by Incogni, have a certain amount of time to comply with it. So it’s natural that your subscription might expire before a resolution comes around. Thankfully, Incogni keeps a steady track of the requests and keeps the cogs turning even after your subscription has expired. In a market full of companies not offering a grace period at all, Incogni stands out and really impressed me with this one.
4. Rechecking deleted data
Now, to ensure a data broker doesn’t pull a fast one on you, it’s important to keep a daily track of your data records, and that they remain deleted. As daily working folks, we rarely have the time to do all of this ourselves, but thankfully, Incogni has our back. The service also regularly checks in with data brokers to make sure they haven’t reacquired the data or even collected new sets to keep your online identity. This makes sure your data stays deleted, and you remain anonymous on the internet.
How Do I Get Started with Incogni?
In all the ways the process might sound complex and tedious to you, Incogni practically takes care of everything for you. However, you will still need to sign up and provide some personal information to kickstart the journey to online freedom. With that in mind, let me walk you through the entire process of using Incogni.
1. Visit the Incogni website and sign up for an account with your email id and choose a password. Incogni recommends you use an email that you generally use to sign up for all kinds of services. This increases the chances of finding more data brokers who have your data.
2. You will then be led to a dashboard that has the pop-up button to start the registration process, which will enable the tool to search for all the data brokers that have your personal details. Go ahead and click on “Start the process” to begin.
3. Here comes the important part. The personal information tab requires intricate information from you, including your name, address, city, and zip code. Make sure to be as accurate as you can as Incogni will use this data to crosscheck with the brokers they contact.
4. Now is the time to sign a limited “Power of Attorney“. For those who don’t know, a POA is a legal document that authorizes a party to act on your behalf. In this case, Incogni will be the acting party on your behalf in contacting the data brokers, and it just needs your consent to do so. Simply sign under the line using your mouse /stylus and press Verify. Don’t worry, as the POA is limited in what it can do, and you are not handing over the complete authority of your data to Incogni. You can read the terms yourself.
5. Next step is as usual as any. Simply verify your identity using the email sent to the email address you entered, and you will be good to go.
6. On the next page, simply choose the subscription plan you wish to get and make the payment.
7. With the payment done, click on “Start data removal“, and you have successfully taken your first step towards online freedom. Thanks to Incogni, you can regain control of your identity on the internet.
And that’s it! You will now be led to the dashboard where in mere seconds Incogni sends over 100+ requests to various data brokers. You can monitor this progress from the dashboard itself and relax. Data brokers have 30-45 days to respond to Incogni’s request. However, the best part here is that even if your Incogni subscription runs out before the data clearance, the company will continue pursuing the brokers on your behalf. And here’s what your dashboard will look like:
Incogni: Cut to the Chase
Incogni by Surfshark, while new to the scene, is proving to be a solid service one that can rely on to get their data removed. With complete automation for the user, the data removal tool ensures that post-sign-up, the user doesn’t need to do anything at all. It’s a totally hassle-free experience.
Moreover, Incogni remains one of the few services that repeatedly check for any digital footprint reoccurrences and keep working even if your subscription expires. With affordable plans starting from as low as $5.69 per month, this is a small price to pay for close to complete online freedom.
Incogni: Pros and Cons
|Painless sign-up process||No way to know if a data broker has actually deleted the data|
|Contacts data brokers for you|
|Handy dashboard keeps a track of all requests|
|Finishes the data removal cycle even if the subscription expires|
Incogni: Plans and Pricing
Since Incogni is a subscription-based service, it revolves around plans that can either be monthly or yearly. While the monthly plan is a bit expensive, I was happy to find out the annual plan cuts that cost by half. Furthermore, data brokers will keep collecting information about you and even new ones might pop up. This is all the more reason, to stay with Incogni for the long haul and get the yearly plan.
Plan Tenure Price 1-month plan $11.49 1-year plan $69.48 (or $5.79 per month )
Incogni Gives You Back Your Digital Veil
After spending a good amount of time with Incogni, safe to say I am impressed by what the service offers. With the promise of giving back a huge amount of the data that was in a way stolen, Incogni takes the hard work out of it while keeping everything automated. If you are anything like me, go for Incogni’s annual plans as the low prices make the entire affair rather affordable. What do you think about Incogni? Have you gotten your data deleted? Let us know your experience with Incogni in the comments below!
Try out Incogni right now (starts at $5.79 per month)
It`s better to use Utopia ecosystem to stay in real safe!
bro, if it arrives in india, it has to be free, no one would spend Rs 720 +gst for just to erase digital footprints, and except some of gen z. most of them doesnt even care about their data, and many of indian dont know about the damn word ‘ privacy ‘. well its nice to know that we have a wide range of tools from spamming my dad with specific ads to removing all of them.