What are Data Brokers Doing with Your Personal Information?


What are Data Brokers Doing with Your Personal Information?

Discover how data brokers collect, use, and sell your personal information. Learn about the risks, regulations, and how to protect your data.


Data brokers collect and sell your data from various sources, including public records, online activity, and even financial transactions. These brokers may gather information such as voter registration information, motor vehicle records, and marriage licenses, compiling a detailed profile of your personal data. This practice, known as data brokerage, raises significant concerns about data privacy and security.

They collect information from people search sites, census data, and consumer data from online purchases. They sell this data to other companies for marketing, research, and other purposes. For example, information brokers may share your information with advertisers who use it to target you with personalized ads as you browse the web.

Understanding how data brokers gather information and the implications for your privacy is very important. 

In this article, we will explore what data brokers do with your personal information, the risks involved, and how you can protect your sensitive data from being misused. We will delve into the complex world of data brokerage and its impact on our lives.

Who Are Data Brokers?


Data brokers are companies or individuals that collect and sell personal information about consumers. Think of them as information middlemen.

They gather data from various sources, compile it into detailed profiles, and then sell this information to other companies, such as marketers, advertisers, or even other data brokers. 

Examples of Data Broker Sites

- Acxiom: One of the largest data brokers, Acxiom collects data on millions of consumers worldwide.

- Experian: Known primarily as a credit reporting agency, Experian also collects and sells personal data.

- Spokeo: A people search website that aggregates data from social networks, public records, and other sources.

How Data Brokers Collect Information

  1. Public Records: Data brokers scrape public records for information such as voter registration, motor vehicle records, marriage licenses, and property records. These records are legally accessible and provide a wealth of personal data.
  2. Online Activity: Every time you browse the web, data brokers track your activity through cookies and web beacons. They collect information on your search history, the websites you visit, and your interactions on social media platforms.
  3. Purchases and Transactions: When you shop online or use loyalty cards, data brokers can access information about your purchase history. This helps them build a profile of your shopping habits and preferences.
  4. Surveys and Subscriptions: Signing up for newsletters, filling out surveys, or subscribing to services often means you’re sharing personal information, which can then be collected by data brokers.
  5. People Search Sites: Websites like Spokeo and Whitepages gather data from different sources, compiling it into easily accessible profiles. These sites are often used by data brokers to collect more detailed information.
  6. Social Media: Your public social media activity, such as likes, shares, and comments, can be harvested by data brokers to understand your interests and behavior patterns.

Types of Data Collected by Data Brokers

Personal Information

Personal information includes basic details about you that data brokers collect from various sources:

- Name: Your full name, including any aliases or nicknames.

- Address: Current and past addresses, as well as property records.

- Phone Number: Landline and mobile phone numbers.

Online Activity Data

Online activity data encompasses everything you do on the internet. Data brokers track your digital footprint to create a detailed profile of your online behavior:

- Browsing History: Websites you visit, search queries, and clicks on ads.

- Social Media Interactions: Likes, shares, comments, and connections on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

- App Usage: Information about the apps you use on your smartphone, including usage patterns and in-app purchases.

Financial Data

Financial data provides insights into your economic behavior and creditworthiness:

- Credit Scores: Data brokers often have access to your credit scores from credit reporting agencies.

- Purchase History: Information about your buying habits, including online and in-store purchases, and loyalty card usage.

Health Data

Health data includes sensitive information about your medical history and health-related behavior:

- Medical Records: Information from health insurance claims and medical service providers.

- Pharmacy Purchases: Details of medications you buy, which can reveal health conditions.

Location Data

Location data tracks your physical movements and whereabouts:

- GPS Data: Information from GPS-enabled devices like smartphones and cars.

- Cell Tower Data: Location information from cell phone providers based on your phone's proximity to towers.

- Public Wi-Fi Networks: Data from connections to public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Purchase Data

Purchase data includes details about your shopping habits:

- Retail Purchases: Information about in-store and online purchases.

- Loyalty Programs: Data from loyalty cards that track your buying patterns and preferences.

Public Records Data

Public records data is sourced from government and public databases:

- Census Data: Demographic information collected through national censuses.

- Property Records: Ownership details, property values, and transaction history.

- Voter Registration Information: Details about your voter registration status and history.

- Motor Vehicle Records: Information about your driver's license and vehicle registrations.

What Do Data Brokers Do with Your Information?


Data brokers are involved in a variety of activities that revolve around collecting, analyzing, and selling your personal information. Let’s dive into the key activities data brokers engage in and understand their implications.

Selling Data to Marketers and Advertisers

One of the primary activities of data brokers is selling data to marketers and advertisers. Here’s how it works:

- Personalized Marketing: Advertisers purchase data from brokers to create targeted advertising campaigns. By understanding your preferences and habits, they can send you personalized ads that are more likely to catch your interest.

For example, if you’ve been searching for hiking gear, you might start seeing ads for outdoor equipment on different websites.

- Email Campaigns: Your email address, along with other personal details, can be sold to companies that will then send you marketing emails. This is why you sometimes receive promotional emails from businesses you’ve never interacted with before.

Creating Consumer Profiles for Targeted Advertising

Data brokers compile detailed consumer profiles by analyzing the collected data. These profiles include information such as your age, gender, income, hobbies, shopping habits, and more. Here’s how these profiles are used:

- Targeted Ads: Companies use these profiles to deliver highly targeted ads. For example, a person identified as a fitness enthusiast might see ads for gym memberships, workout equipment, or health supplements.

- Behavior Prediction: By analyzing your past behavior, companies can predict your future actions. This can help them anticipate your needs and preferences, further refining their marketing strategies.

Sharing Data with Other Companies and Organizations

Data brokers often share your information with other companies and organizations, expanding the reach of your data far beyond what you might expect. This sharing can include:

- Partnerships: Companies partner with data brokers to enhance their customer databases. For example, a retail company might buy data to understand its customers better and improve sales strategies.

- Credit Agencies: Financial data can be shared with credit agencies to help them assess your creditworthiness. This data is crucial for determining your eligibility for loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

- Insurance Companies: Insurance providers may use this data to assess risk and determine premiums. Your lifestyle choices, such as smoking or engaging in risky sports, can impact your insurance costs.

Implications of Data Broker Activities

- Privacy Erosion: The widespread sharing and selling of personal data erode individual privacy, making it harder to keep personal details confidential.

- Identity Theft: With more data available about you, the risk of identity theft increases. Scammers can use your detailed profiles to impersonate you and commit fraud.

- Unwanted Solicitations: The more your data is shared, the more likely you are to receive unwanted solicitations, whether through email, phone calls, or direct mail.

The Risks and Concerns of Data Brokerage

Data brokerage poses significant risks and concerns that affect everyone, from children to seniors. Understanding these risks can help you take steps to protect your personal information.

Privacy Concerns

Data brokers collect vast amounts of personal information, often without your knowledge or consent. This lack of transparency raises several privacy concerns:

- Intrusion: The detailed profiles created by data brokers can feel like an invasion of privacy. These profiles include sensitive information such as your financial status, health conditions, and personal preferences.

- Lack of Control: Once your data is collected and sold, you lose control over how it is used and who has access to it. This can lead to unwanted marketing and spam.

Potential Misuse of Data

- Unauthorized Access: Data breaches can expose your personal information to hackers, who can misuse it for fraudulent activities.

- Discrimination: There is a risk that employers, insurance companies, and other organizations could use your data in ways that discriminate against you based on your health, finances, or other personal characteristics.

Impact on Personal Security and Identity Theft Risks

- Stalking and Harassment: Public availability of your personal data can make it easier for stalkers or harassers to find and target you.

- Home Security: Detailed information about your home address and family members can put you at risk of burglary or other crimes.

- Data Breaches: When data brokers are hacked, your sensitive information, such as social security numbers and bank details, can be exposed.

- Phishing Scams: Scammers use the information gathered by data brokers to create convincing phishing scams to trick you into revealing more personal data.

Legal and Regulatory Landscape

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CCPA is a state law in California that gives residents more control over their personal data.

 - Right to Know: Consumers can request information about the types of personal data collected and how it is used.

 - Right to Delete: Consumers can request the deletion of their personal data.

 - Right to Opt-Out: Consumers can opt-out of the sale of their personal data.

 - Non-Discrimination: Companies cannot discriminate against consumers who exercise their privacy rights.

Other Notable Laws

- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act: The FTC enforces actions against companies that engage in unfair or deceptive practices related to data privacy.

How to Protect Yourself from Data Brokers?

Protecting your personal information from data brokers is essential to maintaining your privacy and security. Here are some practical tips and tools to help you minimize data sharing, remove your information from data broker databases, and educate yourself about data privacy and rights.

1. Use Privacy Tools

- Ad Blockers: Install ad blockers like uBlock Origin or AdBlock Plus to prevent trackers from collecting your browsing data.

- Privacy-Focused Browsers: Use browsers that prioritize privacy, such as Brave or DuckDuckGo. These browsers block trackers and ensure your online activity remains private.

- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks): A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it harder for data brokers to track your online activities. Popular VPN services include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost.

- Cookie Managers: Tools like Cookie AutoDelete help manage and delete cookies that track your online behavior.

2. Opt-Out of Data Collection

- National Do Not Call Registry: Register your phone number to reduce telemarketing calls.

- DMAchoice: Opt-out of receiving unsolicited marketing mail through the Direct Marketing Association’s service.

- Google Ad Settings: Customize your ad settings to limit personalized ads on Google platforms.

3. Be Cautious with Personal Information

- Limit Social Media Sharing: Be mindful of the personal details you share on social media platforms. Adjust your privacy settings to restrict who can see your information.

- Use Alias Emails: Create alias email addresses for subscriptions and online forms to protect your primary email from being added to marketing lists.

4. Regularly Review Privacy Settings

- Social Media Accounts: Regularly check and update the privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure you’re sharing only what you intend.

- Mobile Apps: Review app permissions on your smartphone and disable access to unnecessary data.

Services That Help Consumers Remove Their Information from Data Broker Databases

- My Data Removal: A service dedicated to helping you opt-out of data broker databases. They handle the process of requesting the removal of your data from various brokers.

They offer FREE [diy-guide]DIY Guide[/diy-guide] for you to follow if you want to be remove on the lists of data broker sites.

Educating Yourself About Data Privacy and Rights

1. Stay Informed

- Privacy Newsletters: Subscribe to newsletters from organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) to stay updated on data privacy issues and regulations.

- Privacy Blogs: Follow blogs and websites dedicated to data privacy, such as Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Data Privacy Manager.

2. Understand Your Rights

- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Learn about the rights granted by CCPA, such as the right to know what personal data is being collected and the right to opt-out of its sale.

3. Participate in Privacy Advocacy

- Join Privacy Advocacy Groups: Get involved with groups that advocate for stronger data privacy laws and consumer protections, such as The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT).


Data brokers are companies that operate with a significant amount of your personal information, often without your explicit consent. To protect your personal information, familiarize yourself with data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA, which regulate data usage and provide you with rights to control your data. Ensure that companies must provide consent before using your data and advocate for stronger data management and privacy practices.

These profiles often include data points such as location data, purchase information, and personal information found on social media. Major data brokers, like Acxiom and Experian, aggregate information from public records, online activities, and financial transactions, which they then sell to other companies without your consent.

To stop data brokers from selling your personal information, it’s important to take proactive steps. Start by using privacy tools like ad blockers and VPNs to prevent data brokers from collecting your data as you browse the web. Regularly review and update privacy settings on your social media accounts and be cautious about the personal information you share online. Opt out of data collection services and consider using data removal services to help you remove your information from data broker databases.

Understanding the types of information data brokers collect and how they use it is essential. They gather data to target ads, influence decisions, and share information with third parties. This practice can lead to privacy breaches and even identity theft, as seen in the massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.

Removing yourself from data broker lists can be challenging, but it’s a necessary step to safeguard your data. Utilize services that help you opt out of data collection and regularly monitor your credit reports and financial statements for any signs of misuse. By taking these steps, you can stop data brokers from selling your personal information and protect your data from being misused.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in removing your information from data brokers and enhancing your data security. Email us at hello@mydataremoval.com or give us a call at (855) 700-2914. Don’t wait—take action now to protect your personal information and ensure your privacy.