Infographic: Demystifying the data broker

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Consumers wish to solve the great mystery behind what exactly data brokers collect and their motives behind gathering personal information. The Federal Trade Commission and Direct Marketing Association have unveiled their side of the broker brainteaser, but TrustedID decided to crack the case on how consumers truly feel about data broker activities by conducting an online survey entitled Consumer Perspectives—Data Brokers In Review. The identity protection and privacy organization polled 2,960 Americans who use the company's Catalog Choice tool, an opt-out service, to manage their mail preferences.

“Consumers don't know who the data brokers are, they don't know how they work, and they don't know what information is being collected about them,” says TrustedID CEO Scott Mitic. “When you don't know what a data broker is and you don't know what they're collecting, you instinctively start to be afraid.”

In fact, 71% of respondents of the TrustedID survey believe that it's important to be able to see and access information obtained by data brokers, and 77% claim it is important to be able to make changes to their data. Yet, only 18% of surveyed consumers say they have a “significant” or “complete” grasp of how to define a data broker. Likewise, a mere 16% claim they have a “significant” or “complete” understanding of what information is gathered, and 20% say they have a “significant” or “complete” understanding of what data brokers do with the information once it's acquired.

Additionally, 80% of surveyed consumers say they would like to have a centralized website as a way to manage their data gathered by data brokers. An additional 80% believe they should be able to opt out of the sale or distribution of information, or simply just have the power to delete the collected information altogether.

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