What is Data Broker?
A Data Broker is a business that collects information from a variety of sources; processes it to enrich, cleanse or analyze it; and licenses it to other organizations.
Data brokers can also give license to another company’s data directly or process another organization’s data to provide them with enhanced results. Data typically is not “sold”, but rather it is licensed for particular or limited uses. (A data broker is also sometimes known as an information broker, syndicated data broker, or information product company).
How are they getting your information?
You might be surprised at how much of your personal information is freely available to the companies that want it. Data broker companies don’t need to work overly hard to find your data.
Data brokers collect most of their information from public records. Public records include things like voter registration information, census data, birth certificates, property records, vehicle registration records, marriage licenses, and divorce records. Brokers also either collect or purchase data from credit card providers and retailers. This includes such information as the amount of money you owe on your department store credit card, the type of coupons you tend to use, and the items you’ve purchased in the past after swiping a store’s loyalty card.
If you spend a lot of time on social media or in the online world, you’re giving data brokers even more information about you. Data brokers might nab personal information from the posts you’ve made or ‘liked’ online, online quizzes you’ve taken, online sweepstakes you’ve entered, and the websites you’ve visited.
Is Data Brokerage legal in the U.S.?
Data Brokerage is considered legal as there is no federal law in the United States that regulates the data broker industry. As a result, private companies invade our private lives, spy on our families, and gather our most intimate facts, on a mass scale, for profit.
What can you do to protect your personal information from data brokers?
You can’t completely make yourself invisible to data brokers. But there are steps you can take to at least reduce the amount of information they can collect on you.
1. Opt-out from People Search Sites
Most large-scale people search sites allow you to opt out from their databases, if you’re not familiar with these sites, you can start by searching your name in search engines such as Google or Bing.
Once you identified these sites containing your personal information, simply visit their opt-out pages and submit a request for removal, each broker site has its own process and requirements to process your removal request – some websites need you to fill out forms; others require emails, and others request receiving confirmation codes via robocalls.
2. Adjust your Social Media Privacy Settings
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter serve as key sources for data mining. Therefore, one of the easiest and best measures to protect your data is to adjust your privacy settings. All major social media platforms allow you to customize your settings and choose who can view your profile and posts. You can also prevent others from searching for you by using your email address or phone number. Even the settings of your activity logs that are kept by the social media platforms can be deleted and adjusted to suit your privacy preferences. You can also review posts where you are tagged since all these provide valuable information for data brokers if left unguarded.
Another crucial step is to remove anyone you are unfamiliar with from your friend list and always validate friend requests before accepting them. According to studies, around 25% of users have fake social media accounts, which means you never know who you are becoming friends with on social networks.
Follow some of the basic best practices to keep your data safe on social media platforms. Be mindful of what you share and avoid the impulse to overshare. Be familiar with the privacy and data sharing policies of social networks and delete any unused profiles you may have.
3. Sign up with the Do Not Call Registry
Telemarketers and robocalls could be a common nuisance, especially when you get repeated calls at those busy moments. While they usually don’t seek your prior consent to include your number in their databases, they would still need to comply with the National Do Not Call Registry.
Therefore, registering your home and mobile phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry will help you to opt-out of marketers’ phone databases. This is a free service offered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumer privacy and rights. And if you are still getting calls after registering your number, you can lodge a complaint with the FTC.
4. Use a Data Removal Service
Requesting for your information to be deleted from numerous data brokers and people search sites, one by one, can be tedious and you can seek the help of a professional data removal service.
Sites such as DeleteMyInfo can do all the job for you, from searching your profile, deleting them in all major brokers’ sites including google search, and doing continuous monitoring making sure that your information will not appear anymore.
Collecting data, organizing them and creating profiles are usually automated and are done using complex algorithms. This means that once your records are deleted, there’s nothing preventing them from collecting your data again and creating another profile later. Therefore, DeleteMyInfo can become very useful and effective since we also offer annual subscriptions to screen your data continuously and to get them wiped off. We also provide quarterly reports of the data that has been removed so that you can keep a tab of the progress.