Data Brokers: Your Comprehensive Guide


Data Brokers: Your Comprehensive Guide

Learn about data brokers, how they collect and sell your personal information, and the steps you can take to protect your privacy. Explore effective strategies for opting out of data broker databases and enhancing your online security.


A data broker is an entity that collects, processes, and sells personal data. These brokers collect information from a variety of sources, including public records, online tracking, and people search sites. The data broker industry is vast, with brokers gathering information on millions of individuals worldwide, including phone numbers, marital status, and motor vehicle records.

Understanding how data brokers operate is crucial for individuals who are concerned about data privacy and the amount of information that is being collected about them. Data brokers collect information from publicly available sources and third parties, compiling extensive data sets that can be sold to insurance companies, risk mitigation firms, and other entities. These data sets can include sensitive information, such as your identity theft risk profile and consumer privacy data.

For those looking to protect their privacy, understanding the type of data brokers get and how to opt out of data brokerage services is essential. Various removal services and data broker removal options are available to help individuals regain control over their personal data. Being aware of how data brokers gather information and the ways to mitigate risks can help you better navigate the complexities of the data broker industry.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of data brokers, how they operate, the information data brokers collect, and the steps you can take to protect your personal information. Whether you are concerned about online tracking, selling your data, or simply want to understand more about how data brokers work, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to stay informed and proactive about your data privacy.

I. Understanding Data Brokers

The Role of Data Brokers

Data brokers are companies that specialize in collecting, processing, and sell your personal information. They operate behind the scenes, gathering data from various sources to create detailed profiles on individuals. These profiles are then sold to businesses and organizations for a variety of purposes.

How Data Brokers Collect, Process, and Sell Data


Data brokers collect information from multiple sources. Some common methods include:

Public Records: Data brokers scour public records such as property deeds, voter registrations, and court records.

Online Tracking: They use cookies, web beacons, and other tracking technologies to monitor your online activities, such as the websites you visit and the products you view or purchase.

Social Media: They collect your data from social media platforms where people often share personal details, likes, and interests.

Third-Party Data Sharing: Many companies sell customer data to brokers, including loyalty programs, subscription services, and mobile apps.


Once collected, data brokers also process this information to make it useful. They clean up the data, removing duplicates and errors, and then organize it into comprehensive profiles. This might involve:

Data Aggregation: Combining data from various sources to create a more complete picture of an individual.

Data Analysis: Using algorithms to analyze patterns and predict behaviors.

Segmentation: Categorizing individuals into groups based on shared characteristics, such as shopping habits or demographics.


Data brokers sell the processed data to various clients. These clients include:

Marketers: Businesses looking to target their advertising more effectively.

Financial Institutions: Banks and credit agencies assessing creditworthiness.

Employers: Companies conducting background checks on potential hires.

Healthcare Providers: Organizations analyzing health trends and behaviors.

Types of Data Collected

Data brokers collect a wide range of information about individuals. Here are the main types:

Personal Information

This includes basic details that can identify you personally, such as:

Name: Your full name, including any aliases.

Address: Your current and previous addresses.

Contact Details: Your phone numbers and email addresses.

Behavioral Data

Behavioral data tracks your actions and preferences, often gathered from your online activities:

Online Activities: Websites you visit, links you click, and your browsing history.

Purchase History: Items you buy, both online and in physical stores.

Media Consumption: The TV shows, movies, and online videos you watch.

Demographic Data

This data provides a snapshot of your background and lifestyle:

Age: Your date of birth and age group.

Gender: Male, female, or other gender identities.

Income Level: Your estimated or reported income bracket.

Education: Your highest level of education completed.

Marital Status: Whether you are single, married, divorced, etc.

II. Data Brokers Collect Information

Sources of Data

Data brokers have many ways to gather information, much like a detective uses various sources to solve a mystery. Here are some key sources:

Public Records

These are documents available to everyone. Examples include:

Property Records: Information about who owns a house.

Voter Registrations: Details about who is registered to vote.

Court Records: Information about legal cases.

Online Tracking

When you browse the internet, you leave digital footprints. Here’s how:

Cookies: Small files that track your online activities.

Web Beacons: Tiny images or scripts that monitor your browsing.

Social Media and Online Profiles

Many of us share our lives online. Data brokers can collect:

Profile Information: Details like your birthday or job title.

Posts and Likes: Things you share or like on social media.

Data Harvesting Techniques

Data brokers use various methods to collect and compile data. Here are some common techniques:

Web Scraping

This involves using software to automatically collect information from websites. Think of it as a digital vacuum cleaner that sucks up data from the internet.

Third-Party Data Sharing

Companies often share their customer data with data brokers. For instance, an online store might sell information about what you bought to a data broker.

Surveys and Customer Feedback

Sometimes, we willingly give out information through:

Surveys: Answering questions about our preferences and habits.

Customer Feedback: Sharing our opinions on products and services.

III. Data Brokerage Industry

Data brokering is a massive industry that operates mostly behind the scenes. It involves companies that collect and sell data about individuals and businesses. Understanding how this business works can help us see the broader picture of how our data is used and why it matters.

Biggest Data Brokers and the Marketplace

Major Players in the Data Broker Industry

The data broker industry is dominated by several large companies that have become experts at collecting and selling information. Some of the major players include:

Acxiom: One of the oldest and largest data brokers, Acxiom collects data on hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide.

Experian: Known primarily as a credit reporting agency, Experian also deals extensively in data brokering, selling information for marketing purposes.

Epsilon: This company specializes in data-driven marketing, helping businesses target the right customers with the right messages.

CoreLogic: Focuses on property-related data, providing insights to real estate professionals, mortgage lenders, and insurance companies.

How Data Brokers Monetize Information

Data brokers make money by selling the data they collect. Here’s how the process works:

Data Collection: As discussed, data brokers gather data from a variety of sources, such as public records, online tracking, social media, and third-party sharing.

Data Processing: They clean and organize this data to ensure accuracy and usefulness. This might involve removing duplicates, correcting errors, and combining information from different sources.

Data Packaging: Data brokers create detailed profiles on individuals or groups. These profiles can include everything from basic personal information to more complex behavioral and demographic data.

Data Selling: Finally, data brokers sell these profiles to their clients. They might sell the data as raw information or as part of a more comprehensive analytical service. The price can vary based on the amount and type of data, as well as its perceived value to the buyer.

Use Cases for Data Broker Services

Data brokers provide valuable services to a variety of industries. Here are some common use cases:

Marketing and Advertising

Targeted Advertising: Companies use data broker services to target their ads more effectively. For instance, if a data broker knows you’re interested in fitness, you might see more ads for gym memberships or sports equipment.

Customer Segmentation: Businesses can divide their customers into different groups based on data profiles. This allows them to tailor their marketing messages to each group’s specific interests and needs.

Campaign Optimization: Marketers can analyze data to understand which campaigns are working and which aren’t, allowing them to adjust their strategies for better results.

Risk Management and Fraud Detection

Credit Scoring: Financial institutions use data from brokers to assess the creditworthiness of potential borrowers. This helps them decide who to lend money to and at what interest rates.

Fraud Detection: Data brokers help companies identify fraudulent activities by providing data that can spot unusual patterns or behaviors. For example, if a transaction doesn’t match your usual spending habits, it might be flagged for further review.

Insurance Underwriting: Insurance companies use data to evaluate risk when issuing policies. For instance, they might look at your driving history or health data to determine your premiums.

People Search Services

Background Checks: Employers and landlords often use data brokers to conduct background checks. This can include looking at criminal records, employment history, and other relevant data.

Finding People: Services like people search engine use data from brokers to help individuals find lost friends or relatives. These services compile public records and other information to create comprehensive search results.

Identity Verification: Companies use data brokers to verify identities in various contexts, such as online transactions, account creation, and more. This helps prevent identity theft and ensures that people are who they say they are.

IV. Privacy Concerns and Risks

Data brokers play a significant role in our digital lives, but their activities raise many privacy concerns and risks. Understanding these issues is essential for protecting our personal information and making informed decisions about our online activities.

Invasion of Privacy

Extent of Data Collected and Its Implications

Data brokers collect an astonishing amount of information about individuals. This includes personal details like your name and address, behavioral data such as your online activities and purchase history, and demographic data like your age and income level. 


Personalization vs. Privacy: While some people enjoy personalized ads and recommendations, others feel uncomfortable knowing their actions are being monitored and recorded.

Data Profiles: Comprehensive profiles can reveal intimate details about your life, such as your health concerns, financial status, and personal interests. This information can be used in ways you might not expect or want.

Data Security Issues

Vulnerability to Data Breaches

Data Breaches: Despite efforts to secure data, breaches happen frequently, exposing sensitive information to unauthorized parties. 

Examples of Data Breaches

Equifax (2017): The credit reporting agency suffered a massive breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses.

Yahoo (2013-2014): Over 3 billion accounts were compromised in a series of breaches, revealing email addresses, passwords, and security questions.

V. How to Protect Yourself from Data Brokers

Protecting your personal information from data brokers is crucial in maintaining your privacy. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand how you can take control of your data.

Opt out of Data Brokers

Opting out means asking data brokers to remove your personal information from their databases. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you do that:

  1. Identify Data Brokers: Start by identifying the data brokers that might have your information. Some well-known ones include Acxiom, Experian, and Epsilon.
  2. Visit Their Websites: Many data brokers have opt-out pages on their websites where you can request the removal of your data.
  3. Submit Requests: Follow the instructions on these opt-out pages. You might need to provide some personal information to verify your identity.
  4. Keep Records: Save copies of your opt-out requests and any confirmations you receive. This can help you follow up if your information isn’t removed.

Tools and Resources for Opting Out

There are tools and resources available to make the opting-out process easier:

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Offers a comprehensive list of data brokers and links to their opt-out pages. A free tool that provides links to opt-out pages for many data brokers.

Paid Services: Consider services like MyDataRemoval, which can handle the opt-out process for you. These services charge a fee but can save you time and effort.

Enhancing Personal Privacy

Best Practices for Online Privacy

Taking steps to enhance your online privacy can help reduce the amount of data collected about you:

  1. Use Strong Passwords: Create unique, strong passwords for each of your online accounts and change them regularly.
  2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication: This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of identification.
  3. Be Cautious with Personal Information: Avoid sharing unnecessary personal details online, especially on social media.
  4. Review Privacy Settings: Regularly review and update the privacy settings on your social media accounts and other online services.

Using Privacy-Focused Tools and Software

There are several tools and software designed to protect your privacy:

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks): VPNs encrypt your internet connection, making it harder for third parties to track your online activities. Some popular VPN services include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost.

Ad Blockers: Tools like uBlock Origin and AdBlock Plus can block trackers and ads that collect your data.

Privacy-Focused Browsers: Browsers like Brave and Firefox have built-in privacy features that reduce tracking.

Encrypted Messaging Apps: Use apps like Signal or WhatsApp for secure, encrypted communication.

Monitoring Your Data

Regularly Checking What Information Is Available About You Online

Staying aware of what information is available about you online is crucial:

  1. Search Yourself Online: Regularly search for your name and other personal details to see what information is publicly accessible.
  2. Check Data Broker Sites: Visit data broker sites and use their tools to see what data they have on you.
  3. Use Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts with your name to receive notifications when new information about you appears online.

Using Data Monitoring Services

Consider using data monitoring services to keep track of your personal information:

Credit Monitoring Services: Services like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion offer credit monitoring that alerts you to changes in your credit report, which can indicate identity theft.

Personal Data Monitoring: Services like MyDataRemoval provide comprehensive monitoring of your personal data, alerting you to potential risks and breaches.


Data brokers are companies that play a significant role in gathering and selling consumer data. The data brokerage industry collects personal information from various sources, including online and offline sources, third-party data, and data from social media. Data brokers collect data such as financial information, health information, census data, and other personally identifiable information.

One of the most common types of data brokers focuses on marketing, fraud detection, and consumer information. The information data brokers collect is often sold to third parties, such as advertisers and financial institutions, who use it to target ads or assess creditworthiness. This collected data includes everything from visiting a website to more sensitive details like financial data and health information.

Many people might not realize that data brokers sell consumer data without the individual’s explicit consent. Data brokers gather data from numerous data points and compile detailed profiles that are sold to other companies. These data broker companies often operate without the knowledge of the people whose information they handle, leading to significant privacy concerns.

In response to growing privacy concerns, there is a push to regulate data brokers more strictly. Legislation such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and new data privacy laws aim to hold data brokers accountable and give consumers more control over their data. Data brokers must comply with these regulations to ensure the ethical handling of user data.

Understanding the scope of information data brokers collect and how it’s used can help you make informed decisions about your online activities. Whether it’s your financial data, health records, or data from social media, knowing who has access to your information and how to protect it is crucial in the modern digital landscape.

Data brokers collect and sell your personal information without your consent, putting your privacy at risk. Protect yourself by removing your data from their databases. At My Data Removal, we specialize in helping you opt out of data broker sites and safeguard your personal information.

Don’t wait until your data is compromised. Contact us today to get started on securing your privacy. Email us at or call us at (855) 700-2914.

Let us help you take the first step towards a safer and more private digital life. Reach out now!