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TLC Workshop: The Data Detective

This guide outlines the issues with data brokers, the information they collect and privacy issues.

What Are Data Brokers?

  • Data brokers are companies that collect and sell data regarding consumers.
  • ​Data brokers sell data to other companies, individuals or even other data brokers. 
  • In general, data brokers do not interact with the people whose information they collect.  
  • Most people are completely unaware of the information that is being collected on them or that these companies even exist. 


Types of Data Brokers

​1.  People Search Sites

  • ​Provide information such as address, phone number, relatives, court records and property records.
  • Examples: Spokeo, Pipl, PeopleFinder.
  • ​Information such as address and phone number free - other data may be fee based. 


​2.  Marketing Data Brokers

  • ​Develop snapshots regarding individuals based upon psychographic information such as age, income, education, interests or ethnicity.
  • ​Sell the data to companies for highly tailored marketing. 


​3.  Risk Mitigation Product Developers 

  • ​These brokers collect information about consumers to help mitigate fraudulent transactions.
  • The company ID Analytics is an example.
  • ​If the information that the companies collect is incorrect, consumers have a difficult time correcting the errors.  

Examples of Data Brokers

Photo credit Cracked Labs CC BY-SA 4.0Photo credited to Cracked Labs CC BY-SA 4.0