Data Brokers Incogni covers

With Incogni, you can remove your personal data from hundreds of data brokers. This list is continuously expanding, and we plan to increase the number of data brokers in the future!

*Data sensitivity

We calculate data sensitivity based on the types of information data brokers collect. For example, health and financial data have higher associated risks than demographic data or technical identifiers. According to our data sensitivity scale, scores of 1 – 3 are considered relatively low risk, 4 – 6 medium, and 7 – 10 high. 

*Category

Marketing data brokers
Collect and/or sell information about your browsing habits, past purchases, and interests. They are responsible for “personalized marketing” as well as most of the surprisingly relevant online ads you see.

Recruitment data brokers
Compile and use personal information to offer background screening services to HR officers.

Risk mitigation brokers
Collect and/or sell a variety of background, criminal, property, and other information to provide assessment reports to various investment and business companies.

People search sites
Almost an open book/resource, usually available for free to find extensive profiles, contact details, and background information about anyone.

Financial information brokers
Collect various personal finance and background information for credit companies or banks to build your credit score which may even influence your eligibility to get a loan.

Health information data brokers
Collect information about your general health and/or sell it to companies in the healthcare field. This information can be used to target you with health product ads and even set your insurance rates.

What is a data broker?

A data broker, also known as a data aggregator, is a company that collects, sorts, analyzes, and sells or shares individuals’ personal information in order to generate revenues. They create detailed profiles of these individuals, encompassing their demographics, behavior patterns, interests, and preferences.

They sell or otherwise monetize access to these profiles to other businesses, marketers, or organizations seeking to target specific audiences for advertising, marketing, research, or other purposes. Some data brokers, called people search sites, sell access to other individuals, often for a nominal fee.

Data brokers play a role in the digital ecosystem, shaping personalized marketing strategies and aiding in customer segmentation. However, concerns regarding privacy, consent, and the potential for misuse of sensitive information have raised many ethical questions surrounding the ways data brokers operate.

What kinds of data brokers are there?

There are many different types of data brokers that specialize in different niches of data collection and sale. Some focus on consumer data, collecting information like demographics, purchasing habits, and online behavior. Others specialize in business data, providing details about companies, industry trends, and financial information.

Additionally, there are data brokers that deal with healthcare data, social media data, and even political data. Each type of data broker serves specific industries and purposes, catering to the needs of businesses seeking insights and targeted marketing opportunities in their respective domains.

These are the main categories of data brokers that are out there:

  • People search sites
  • Marketing data brokers
  • Risk mitigation data brokers
  • Financial data brokers
  • Recruitment data brokers.

People search sites are the data brokers that most people have knowingly come across. Search for your full name, address, phone number, or email address online and you will likely find multiple hits from websites that have extremely detailed profiles on you. Anyone can use these sites for any reason.

You probably will not see marketing data brokers showing up in a web search for your personal details. These data brokers prefer to work behind the scenes, helping companies create traditional and targeted advertising campaigns by selling them access to detailed consumer profiles.

Marketing data brokers are also responsible for a significant portion of the spam emails and texts, spam calls, robocalls, and similar nuisances you experience on a weekly or even daily basis.

Risk mitigation data brokers supply health and financial information to investors, financial institutions, and insurance companies. This data is used to manage risks associated with false declarations and fraud, but can also affect your insurance rates and ability to get approved for credit cards and loans.

Financial data brokers are the data brokers that, for example, your credit card company uses to assess your eligibility for various loans, lines of credit, and other financial products. They deal in some of the most sensitive personal information there is, like your Social Security number and credit history.

Finally, recruitment data brokers target recruiters and employers, selling them personal profiles that include your demographics, employment history, education history, and known business associates. Recruiters and employers can then use this information to assess your job application.

What personal information do data brokers collect, share, and sell?

Data brokers collect, share, and sell a wide range of personal information. This may include demographic details (age, sex, location), contact information (email, phone number), social media activity, browsing history, purchase history, financial information, educational background, professional history, and even sensitive data like health conditions and political affiliations.

The specific information collected and sold varies among data brokers, but it is typically aimed at providing businesses with exploitable insights into consumer behavior and preferences. These insights can be used for targeted marketing, advertising, and decision-making as well as invigilation, surveillance, and stalking.

The personal and sensitive information that data brokers collect can include:

  • A person’s age and/or birthdate
  • Full name
  • Sex
  • Personal details
  • Contact details (email, phone number, postal address)
  • Birth certificates
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Online shopping accounts
  • Login credentials
  • Court records
  • Bankruptcy records
  • Marriage licenses
  • Marital status
  • Voter registration information
  • Criminal records
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Purchase history
  • Education records
  • Employment records
  • Social Security number
  • Assets (vehicles and properties)
  • Purchase habits
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Political and religious affiliations
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sizing information
  • Arrest records and mugshots
  • Social media profiles
  • Dating profiles
  • Job-search profiles
  • Device information
  • Browser details
  • Online activity
  • Search history
  • Credit history
  • Credit score
  • Family members
  • Distant relatives
  • Known associates.

How do data brokers get your personal information?

Most data brokers claim to “only” gather personal information from publicly available sources. This includes government records, public-facing social media profiles, property records, court documents, professional licensing databases, voter registration records, census data, and anything else that’s publicly available or considered part of the public record.

The reality, though, is that some data brokers may go beyond exploiting public sources and delve into other, sometimes illegitimate, data sources. They might include login credentials and other account information leaked during data breaches, data of dubious origin bought from other data brokers, and data harvested by spyware.

Here are some of the common methods used by data brokers to obtain personal information:

Online tracking

Data brokers track users’ online activities through cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies embedded in websites, apps, and advertisements.

Public records

They gather information from publicly available sources such as government records, property records, court documents, and professional licensing databases.

Data suppliers

Data brokers purchase data from other companies, such as social media platforms, e-commerce websites, loyalty programs, and data exchanges.

Surveys and forms

Data brokers may collect data through online surveys, forms, or sweepstakes, often with user consent. How informed that consent is is up for debate.

Offline sources

They acquire data from offline sources like magazine subscriptions, public events, surveys, and public directories.

Partnerships

Data brokers form partnerships or affiliations with other companies to exchange or purchase data.

It’s important to note that data collection practices can vary among data brokers, and the methods employed may involve legal considerations and privacy policies.

Are data brokers legal?

Yes, the vast majority of data brokers operate legally. The data broker industry is generally considered legal, although much of the data processing performed by data brokers is regulated by data privacy laws. The European Union (EU) has its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but the legislative situation in the US is not as rosy.

Unlike the EU, the US does not have an analogous federal data protection law in place. There are some state data privacy laws like the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), but none of the proposed federal laws have passed the legislative process to date.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one example of a federal agency that can sometimes intervene in cases where sensitive data is harvested and abused in particularly egregious ways. The FTC is not a substitute for a federal data protection law, though.

How to limit the damage that data brokers can do to you

The fact that there are several state data protection laws in effect throughout the US means that you can keep data brokers in line by invoking your data privacy rights. This is guaranteed to work in those states that have data protection laws on the books, but the situation is far from hopeless in the remaining states.

State data protection laws like the CCPA typically give residents the right to have their data deleted from data brokers’ databases and to opt out of further data collection. If you live in a state that does not acknowledge these rights, you can still complete the opt-out process as per the CCPA—most data brokers will honor your request regardless.

Data brokers collect information on people all over the world. Data broker companies that specialize in dealing in Americans’ personal and sensitive data generally do not discriminate between states. It can be easier and safer for them to just remove everyone who asks to opt out rather than risk non-compliance penalties in states like California.

Data brokers sell personal data to anyone who is willing to pay. The personal information they put out there could lead to your health insurance premiums going up. You might have a criminal record that would otherwise be difficult to dig up in public records, but that companies in the data broker industry put on the first page of search results.

The information found on people search sites can be used to screen potential tenants. Legally, this is only possible if the given data broker is FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliant. Practically, there is nothing stopping people from using the information they get from data brokers for any purpose they like.
You can limit the damage these companies do by systematically opting out of each and every data broker that has or might have your personal and sensitive information. Doing this manually is possible, but extremely time-consuming. Automated, set-and-forget solutions like Incogni can help you do this without the hassle.

Interested in knowing more about data brokers? You are in the right place. Check out these resources:

Scroll to Top