Thanks to social media, mobile devices, and government bureaucracy, a flood of information on consumer activity and habits is growing, and organizations are very interested in getting it.
These are companies that collect and aggregate consumer information to create detailed profiles which can be purchased by other organizations. Data brokers are also known as information resellers, data vendors, information brokers, and similar terms. A growing industry recognized by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), data brokers seldom interact with consumers directly but are dedicated to amassing information.
Where do they get it?
The data may come from any or all sources of freely available information:
* Public records such as court proceedings, property tax assessors, mortgages, motor vehicle records, and census info.
* Self-reported information such as memberships, surveys, contests, and similar submitted cards or forms.
* Social media sites that retain membership info and publish personal content.
* Cooperative exchanges of data with other companies.
* Purchasing information from online and offline retailers, search engines, mail-order, and more.
What information are they looking for?
Much of the available information is used to create a profile that can be broken down into targeted areas, based on age, gender, race, religion, address, income, marital status, number of children, political affiliation, education, occupation, and more.
Significant lifestyle changes are also of great interest, such as engagements, marriages, the birth of a child, graduation, divorces, real estate purchases or refinancing, and similar life-changing events.
Some data brokers focus on more shopping-oriented factors, such as buying history and habits, hobbies, interests, social media activities, medical problems, credit history, and payment methods.