How do names and adresses get in public search databases?


Quick Answer

Someone's personal information is recorded any time he gets a credit card, opens a bank account, receives a loan, files an insurance claim, returns a purchase, fills a medical prescription, rents a vehicle, joins a mailing list or performs any type of online transaction. Various companies keep track of this information and sell it to marketing firms, who then compile all the information to form more complete profiles. Elements of these profiles are often available in public search databases.

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Full Answer

Different companies specialize in collecting different types of data. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the major credit reporting agencies that monitor a person's financial activity involving things like mortgages, car loans and credit cards. ChoicePoint is a company that compiles information from various insurance sources, such as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange and the Automobile-Property Loss Underwriting Service.

A large health insurance database is maintained by the MIB Group, which is made up of hundreds of health insurance providers throughout the United States and Canada. Chex Systems and Telecheck monitor check writing activity as a service to banking institutions and vendors. ChoicePoint performs background checks focusing on the criminal backgrounds or drug histories of potential employers.

USADATA and InfoUSA maintain the two largest mailing list databases. All of these companies sell their information to other vendors, marketers and companies, which is how public search databases obtain it. To get information removed from these databases, the person requesting it must send a written request with proof of identity.

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