Private Database of One-Third of U.S. Adults Sold to Debt Collectors and Banks

Friday, February 01, 2013

Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, has been selling the personal information of Americans to debt collectors and other businesses, according to an NBC News investigation.


The Work Number, a company owned by Equifax, maintains “what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created,” Bob Sullivan of NBC News reported.


The database contains 190 million employment records, salary records and health insurance details involving more than 30% of all U.S. adults. And much of this data, including how much people have been paid, is sold to third parties, including bill collectors and banks.


“It’s the biggest privacy breach in our time, and it’s legal and no one knows it’s going on,” Robert Mather, who runs a small employment background company named, told the network news web site. “It's like a secret CIA.”


Equifax obtains its information from thousands of businesses and the federal government. Because the information it holds is considered a credit report, federal law allows Americans to obtain their own records for free once a year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Your Employer May Share Your Salary, And Equifax Might Sell That Data (by Bob Sullivan, NBC News)

FTC to Study Data Broker Industry’s Collection and Use of Consumer Data (Federal Trade Commission)

Feds Want to Know What Data Brokers Who Market Data on Consumers Know (by Ken Broder, AllGov)


Leave a comment