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FTC report examines data brokers

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In today’s economy, Big Data is big business. And data brokers — companies that collect consumers’ personal information and resell or share that information with others — play a key role.

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released a study of nine data brokers. These data brokers collect personal information about consumers from a wide range of sources — including public records, loyalty cards, websites and social media — and provide information for a wide range of purposes — including verifying someone’s identity, marketing products and detecting fraud.

What did the FTC learn about the data broker industry?

  • Data brokers collect consumer data from numerous sources, largely without consumers’ knowledge. Some of the information data brokers collect, like bankruptcy information, voting history, consumer purchase data, web browsing activities and warranty registrations are not obtained directly from consumers, and as a result, consumers are largely unaware that data brokers are collecting and using this information.
  • Data brokers collect and store billions of data elements, including some on nearly every U.S. consumer. Data brokers hold a vast array of information on individual consumers. For example, one of the nine data brokers has 3,000 data segments for nearly every U.S. consumer.
  • Data brokers combine and analyze data about consumers to make potentially sensitive inferences. Data brokers infer consumer interests from the data they collect. Then, they use those interests to make inferences about consumers and place them in categories. Potentially sensitive categories include those that primarily focus on ethnicity and income-levels, a consumer’s age, or health-related conditions like “Expectant Parent,” “Diabetes Interest,” and “Cholesterol Focus.”

If you want to learn more, including the types of products offered by data brokers, the benefits and risks, and the FTC’s recommendations to Congress, read the FTC’s report. You also can join the FTC Twitter chat Wednesday, May 28, at 2pm EDT to discuss the report. Follow @FTC and tweet questions with #BigData to join the conversation.

And take a look at Sharing Information: A Day in Your Life to see how your information may be collected and used.



If a credit report cannot produce negati ity actions over 7 years old how can a landlord for a commercial rental appli ation deny you after paying rent for 2 1/2 years on 3 yr lease with option to renew lease the landlord filed a unlawful detainer case because she said I brea hed covenant of commercial contract for not di ulging 20 year old claim against tena t which has been purged found not guilty in court case history o. Appli ation I ga e permission to check credit references and income not to check with local courts about a 20 year old convi tion thzt has been purged and has nothing to do with renting a commercial building. Isnt this unlawful to obtain Info without my permission as well as inadmisable in a court of law for consideration to be a breach of covenant on a contract for renting a commercial building and is there a statute of limitation for landlord to bring such an action after knowing and continuing to recieve rent for 2 1/2 yrs what is statute of limitation and is there such a breach of covenant on an applicaTion

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Sounds like what they ran was a background check, not a credit report, which includes a search of court records, It seems to me if they are going to look at court records they should at least investigate full record tot he conclusion of the case, or at least allow you to provide evidence of the out come of that case. As far as renewing your lease... without knowing the terms of your lease agreement, I imagine it is up to them if they choose to allow you to renew, regardless of any old court matter. In other words they don't need a reason to deny renewal. But it seems to me taht if you have been on time with your rent and there is nothing new on your credit report or back ground check that would cause them concern there is no reason not to renew the lease. The only thing I can think of that may be the reason is if they can get more money leasing the property to someone else. But without seeing your lease agreement it is hard to answer your question as to your rights and their rights.

These creditors cannot not even delete your information nor do they have any education... They have assigned my social security number and given my good credit to another person and still have this other person I.D on what they call my credit report and still send this other person my good credit to do nation wide crimes. So when will they stop

I think Congress need to enact some form of legislature that will make these type's of crime against,people be pay directly to the people that have been hurt,and that's just about the whole world right about now,monetary compensation,in the amount of 62.000.00,that's sixty two thousand dollars.for anyone who's ID has been compromised,lost stolen,social security numbers,exploitation,abuse,fraud,mislead,and any other violation under the constitution,there is a whole entire class of people who have been left out in the cold,because of these type's of crime not through any fault of their own,and its bad,I find it hard to think any one in this Country could be treated so unfairly.

I don't know when this all happened but according to the information in the hearing's,this practice was supposed to have stopped a while ago,this is more proof that the Congress of the United States of America,has failed to protected the American people,its an insult to every value that we stand for,to allow our personal information to be stolen and everyone seems to think its for our good that this happened,its a crime against humanity. this has been going on gone on for far to long,I don't need people using my personal information for anything,its happening as I speak,how is it that service providers are being allowed to use people's ID as they see fit,with out consent,If I open someone else mail is that not a crime,if I use someone else credit or banking information,with out consent,not breaking the Law,if I enter your house because I know you have something I can use,with out consent is that not breaking the law,if I give false or misleading information to obtain government assistance is that not breaking the law,I think this Data Broker stuff has gone to far in reasoning why they have our information,and are using and selling it to anyone who has a 100.00 buck,how dare this government stand by and continue to even think,that something good is coming from this.I think a good look at our resent past history even at a glance,it look's not very good for government. After all it is part of their job to oversee the affair's of The American people,and it has become very clear,that the past 15 yrs has been nothing but a looting of the American people,and Congress needs to act accordingly to restore personal information back to the rightful owner's nothing else would be acceptable,why would any respectable individual or corporation want to compromise their integrity,for a few quick buck's.

This is in no way acceptable,because,if an citizen of the United states were to engage in this type of practice,they would be facing some stiff charges,however if they are only paying fine's to the government for their behavior and are still be allowed to continue,with no regard to our Constitution,or rule of Law,this is a wrong that must be made right,as far as Data Broking,it's understandable,if someone in a contract,however,the using and selling of personal information for a price,maybe folks should be required to take a course in the Constitution and Civil Society,before they are allowed to do commerce in America,it not about making money when you are using other people's information when they need it for themselves and their family,why is it that those who have more then they need, continue to reap from those who have less then what is needed?

Its horrible. My daughters Soc Sec # was being used at the DMV and Wachovia by a guy from Lorton. I found this out when I took her to get a walkers ID. DMV rep tried to confiscate her State issued, still in the envelope Soc Sec card, b/c someone else was already using that number. I had to go to Soc Sec Adm to get a certified letter stating this number was legally my daughters. Went to open a childs savings at Wachovia, and found the same person had opened a childs acct using my daughters Soc Sec #. I filed a complaint with both DMV and Wachovia, but they would not tell me the outcome. I went to the local police, they refused to let me file a complaint, saying they do not do that type of thing, or get involved in identity issues.
Now, my son, out of the USMC is trying to get an studio apt where he is going to school, has a great credit rating over 800, but being denied b/c I was late paying rent by a day or two several times over a two year period. He was not a tenant of the complex I moved to. He was stationed on a military base, and over seas. The apt mgt says they did not file anything against him, and does not use soc sec numbers, or submit complains to the credit bureaus. The court says they do not use social security numbers in their filings either.
But CoreLogic, which is a credit reporting agency used primarily for rental properties has placed erroneous info in my sons credit file. And according to my son, even though we have sent proof from the property mgt that he was not on the lease, not a responsible party, nor ever the intended of any court action started and rescinded, CoreLogic is refusing to remove the false info from his file. Their policy is if anyone over 18 uses an address to receive mail, whether they are on the lease or not, any late payments or court actions will be placed in their files, and probably will not be removed even with proof.
So, they are telling my son he has to go to court to get it removed.
The court said their is nothing they can do b/c they are not the source of the false information.

So, what is one to do? Police will not take complaints on identity theft. DMV will not do anything about someone using another persons Soc Sec #, or give the victim any information to help them pursue clearing up the issue. And credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies can just post whatever they want on a persons credit file/history, with no oversight to insure the information is true or they have the correct person. And there is no authority to force them to remove false info from your file. And you, the consumer, or should I say, the victim, is left to have to prove you are whom you are, and to prove they the information in your file is false.
How can you do that when all parties/companies/ gov organizations involved refuse to take any responsibility?
There should be a law that before any information can be placed in a persons credit file, or charges brought against them in a court of law; the entity make the accusation, opening a case, filing documents, posting to credit files, etc have to verify beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the actual party(ies) said adverse action was being placed against.

If you are worried about identity theft here are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Find more information about identity theft at Also, you can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at

I just found this page and I regularly follow it to your future articles. I want to thank you for sharing, it is more than helpful.

Is there an organization I can contact to help me get these data brokers to stop tracking my data. I think we should be able to opt out of letting them track us.

You may find this publication helpful, Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information. For additional information, please see our Privacy & Identity page.

Thanks for the information. There is a lot there to investigate but at quick glance there doesn't seem to be much I can do about this.

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