Much Valuable Information Is Inaccurate, Unavailable

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When one thinks about all the arguments for guaranteeing privacy to consumers, one conjures all the different facts that marketers, including financial institutions, have available to them. But let's think about the valuable information that marketers are not privy to because it is not available or nonreleasable or inaccurate at best. Here are samples:

• Household income, which is never real. It is generally estimated. The data come from product warranty registrations, surveys and questionnaires. It is not verifiable.

• Home value. Much of the current information is based on the 1990 census. Whether it is appraised value or previous acquisition cost, that was the basis for estimating home markets. The only thing we do know is that it is 1990 data.

• Net worth. No one knows net worth except the individual. It is not available from any public source.

• Age of children. Is it really private information? Unless you are selling children's books, insurance, etc., it probably has little value.

• Mortgage. The mortgage amount differs with the borrower's investment philosophy. Does one want a high mortgage or a low mortgage? It is not indicative of the worth; therefore, it is not true or accurate information.

• Bank balance. Vital information but not available.

• Investment holdings. Real estate, stocks, funds, bonds, etc. Entirely unknown by the marketing community but most valuable if the information were available.

There you have it. Some super consumer information that is worth a fortune to the DM industry, but privacy advocates need not be concerned. It's a no-brainer.

Robert Dunhill, President, Dunhill International List Co., Boca Raton, FL

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