After checking the privacy policies of 400 randomly selected data brokers, the data privacy agent Incogni.com discovered that every third broker may hold private information on Americans' financial situations. In the continuing absence of Congressional action on a comprehensive U.S. federal privacy law, only five states so far have enacted their own laws to protect private data.
Data brokers are companies who can enter into mutually beneficial marketing relationships with third parties, usually businesses or other consumers. They know many things about people they collect data about – social security numbers, passwords, and even financial information. Having their private information spread far and wide online increases internet users' risk of identity theft and even new credit card or loan denials. Such malicious activity is costing businesses and consumers billions of dollars each year.
A recent survey of U.S. consumers run by NordVPN found that over half of Americans would not like to disclose their financial information to others. Despite the fact of every third broker holds sensitive private information, many Americans have not exercised their right to opt out. Based on the California Consumers Protection Act (CCPA), people can request to see and delete the personal information collected about them by data brokers or request their information not be sold. The number one reason given for not exercising these rights is not knowing they have them to begin with, reveals a recent survey by the Consumer Action and Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
“Data privacy is becoming an increasingly alarming issue, yet many people are still unaware of the hidden market that data brokers operate in. As the sensitivity and scope of the data they possess widen, so does the need to be able to opt out of it. However, based on recent studies, the actual process of taking back data has been shown to be extremely tedious. It requires legal knowledge and lots of persistence,” says Darius Belejevas, Head of Incogni.
But even knowing how to opt out doesn't guarantee easy access to financial data that data brokers have on consumers. People might have trouble tracking down the data brokers that have it or finding the right links to opt out. Consumers likely have to deal with such convoluted opt-out processes that it will substantially impair their ability to exercise their rights. Some processes will involve many complicated steps, including downloading third-party software or wading through confusing and intimidating disclosures. These procedures might take hours, days, and even years to complete.
Considering that every second data broker holds financial information, keeping it safe or protected from being compromised online can seem like an impossible task. Here are a few simple steps to protect it:
– check credit reports regularly,
– use strong passwords,
– reduce paper bills and establish online statements from banks,
– shred old documents,
– use secure websites and Wi-Fi,
– don't carry sensitive documents unless necessary,
– watch for phishing emails for sensitive information,
– and beware of unknown callers.
Incogni.com is a data privacy agent that periodically sends official data removal requests to personal information brokers on behalf of our clients. The Incogni team is equipped with the legal experience customers may not have. Instead of having to read through reams of legalese and having to remember which brokers answered their emails at all, Incogni subscribers can simply observe the process via regular updates.
The list of data brokers we checked: here
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