Everywhere you look on the web, there are companies selling personal information. The popular belief is that records coming from government sources are public information. Your name is not public, it never has been. The information coming from government sources are publicly disclosable which carry a totally different meaning. Most of the material on the internet for sale is stolen, or is improperly used information. Publicly disclosable information means that it is open for viewing of the public. It does not mean that it is meant for sale by a third party nor, is it to join with other pieces of information without the consent of the owner. There are several very large companies that have cornered the market in this endeavor. The data collection has grown to the point that city and county offices nationwide enter data into software and systems made or owned by a few companies. In some places in the country your local clerk acts as a data entry clerk too. Some cities and towns unknowing give the local information directly to data brokers by entering it in their own computer systems.
The majority of the sites on the internet, get the information from a select few companies. There are only a limited number of websites that have their own data. What many people don’t realize including most politicians is that the credit reporting industry invented the data brokering business. It has been selling personal information since its inception. The United States has attempted to regulate the industry which has resulted in a mess. Do you know how your own credit score is created? The industry claims it is a secret, but it holds an invisible guiding hand over countless Americans. Trying to get something removed from the regulated system is not easy, and that is for only financial transactions. Regulation allowed the credit industry to keep the information it had. The government put limits on particular types of information and its disclosure, it never limited what was collected or what was done with any other type of information that falls outside of regulation. All of it is for sale and is routinely sold by the credit industry.
A lot of people want to opt out of data brokers. The reason why so many sites are now offering opting out is simple. The companies understand that they have no right to your information. The trick that is played on the unsuspecting individual however, other information is required to verify who you are. This is so the additional corrected information can be sold one more time. Getting your information out of the credit system is impossible, because of regulation.
The frustration over opting out has created a new industry. Again for a fee you can pay them yearly to keep your name off of a number of sites. Here lays another issue. Many of the small operators are not what anyone would call reputable companies; many only have one or two employees. Some operators have more than one website to further confuse the marketplace. The smaller operators are easy to identify; most of them have no mailing address listed on the websites. Contact us generally has a simple phone number or email address.
The actual problems we face are deeper than what you see by the companies simply selling the information outright. The industries involved in selling your information have multiple names. The credit industry also sells its information in what are called lists.
List brokers in not a really old industry, its history came with the invention of the computer. One of the largest is a company who’s historical name is demographics. The very definition of the word came from what the company used to do. It created as a mailing list for the Democratic Party.
List brokers create common denominators of the traits of the population. The commonalities we have with others in society are then sold as lists. List are available on almost any subject some of them you would never imagine. The lists I have seen include ailments, diseases and also every occupation that you can imagine including the home addresses of police and military personnel.
The list business needs content to exist, just knowing someone’s name is not enough. It requires area of interest. It requires detailed consumer information. The list business that a deal with consumer information has always been competitive one might have called it vicious. In some areas of the country list brokers of the past hired people to go through the garbage to find interests of consumers. Today list brokers use spyware web site tracking mechanisms and a plethora of other techniques, to track your computer habits. The operations back the creation of apps for cell phones. These are cutting edge and cool, so people will download and agree to be tracked by their gps and copy the contacts so they know who their friends are. Some of the apps analyze text and emails messages. As newer applications are developed to encrypt messages or automatically destroy them the industry creates new apps all to gain access to all your information.
There are thousands of free website applications for website operators to put on their websites that offer a function for the operator but it also tracks consumer’s habits. Silently anyone visiting a site will expose and catalog the consumer of the sites contents, what is clicked, and any other interaction with the site. This is all done for content all for what you are interested in so you can be further cataloged in the list business.
The list industry is also making alliances with credit card merchant companies. These systems monitor credit card transactions, knowing the products available at a location or combining the information with direct purchases of products.
Today advanced computers compile lists based on the information that is known. Software finds commonality of data so that it can better be marketed. Some list sellers are also called data brokers but the industry is bigger than that. You may have heard of big data and this is one meaning. It is hard, if not impossible to remove yourself from the list brokers. It has created such an area of controversy that its lobbying group set up The Direct Mail Association that allows people to opt out of junk mail. Only a small percentage of list brokers are members of the association.
The list brokers are a powerful and constant annoyance to almost all people in the country. Beyond junk mail it was behind most of the spam and telemarketing phone calls until they were covered under federal law.
http://Itsmyinfo.org has lists of most of the organizations mentioned in this article.
Data brokers http://itsmyinfo.org/databrokers/data-brokers/
List brokers http://itsmyinfo.org/databrokers/list-brokers
Internet spies http://itsmyinfo.org/databrokers/internet-spies/
Credit spies http://itsmyinfo.org/databrokers/credit-card-merchant-services
Your name is your property. Here are a set of instructions to get your information off the internet