In this report, the FTC discusses the results of an in-depth study of nine data brokers. These data brokers collect personal information about consumers from a wide range of sources and provide it for a variety of purposes, including verifying an individual's identity, marketing products, and detecting fraud. Because these companies generally never interact with consumers, consumers are often unaware of their existence, much less the variety of practices in which they engage.
The report indicated that data brokers that collect, analyze and sell huge amounts of information on the activities of consumers for marketing purposes operate with "a fundamental lack of transparency." By reporting on the data collection and use practices of these nine data brokers, which represent a cross-section of the industry, this report attempts to shed light on the data broker industry and its practices.