PrivacyHawk Logo

Data Brokers and Financial Privacy: What Consumers Need to Know

Data Brokers and Financial Privacy: What Consumers Need to Know image
Updated: June 24th, 2024
In this modern age of online data storage, the invisible world of data brokers operates quietly behind the scenes, collecting, analyzing, and selling vast amounts of personal information. Imagine waking up to find your bank account emptied by a cybercriminal who knew everything about you, your spending habits, your favorite stores, and even your pet's name. This nightmare scenario is increasingly possible due to the activities of data brokers.
Data brokers compile detailed profiles of millions of individuals, including their financial history, spending habits, and online behavior. While this data aggregation can benefit businesses by allowing them to tailor their services, it also poses significant risks to consumer privacy and security. The more data brokers know about you, the greater the potential for identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious activities.
In this blog post, we will explain in detail who data brokers are, how their activities impact your financial privacy, and the steps you can take to protect yourself. 

Who are Data Brokers?

Data brokers are entities that gather and sell personal information about individuals from various sources. Unlike traditional businesses that collect data directly from their customers, data brokers aggregate data from public records, social media, online purchases, and other digital footprints. 
These companies operate privately, compiling detailed profiles that can include everything from your financial history to your shopping routines. They then sell this information to marketers, advertisers, and even other businesses looking to target potential customers with precision.

Types of Data Collected: 

The data collected by brokers can be extensive and varied, including:
  • Financial Information: Credit scores, loan history, spending patterns.
  • Personal Identifiers: Names, addresses, phone numbers.
  • Behavioral Data: Online activities, social media interactions, purchase history.
  • Demographic Information: Age, gender, ethnicity, marital status.

The Impact of Data Brokers on Financial Privacy

The activities of data brokers pose several risks to financial privacy. With comprehensive profiles, malicious actors can easily commit identity theft, financial fraud, and other types of cybercrimes. Even without direct theft, the mere aggregation of such detailed information can lead to invasive marketing practices and loss of personal autonomy. 
In 2013, data broker Acxiom faced scrutiny when it was revealed how much personal information it held on millions of Americans, including financial data. More recently, data breaches at credit reporting agencies like Equifax have shown how vulnerable such data can be to hacking. The repercussions of compromised financial data can be severe, including identity theft, targeted scams, and loss of control over how your data is used.
The activities of data brokers pose several risks to financial privacy. With comprehensive profiles, malicious actors can easily commit identity theft, financial fraud, and other types of cybercrimes. Even without direct theft, the mere aggregation of such detailed information can lead to invasive marketing practices and loss of personal autonomy.
The repercussions of compromised financial data can be severe. For instance:
  • Identity Theft: Criminals can use your personal information to open new credit accounts, take out loans, and commit fraud.
  • Targeted Scams: Detailed knowledge about your finances can make you a prime target for sophisticated scams.
  • Loss of Control: Once your data is out there, it's nearly impossible to regain control over how it's used or shared.

How Data Brokers Obtain Your Financial Data?

Data brokers collect information from a wide range of sources, often without obtaining explicit consent from individuals. These sources include public records, online behavior, and data obtained from third-party companies. The legality of data collection by brokers is a complex issue.
While many data brokers operate within the bounds of the law, the regulations governing their activities vary widely by region. For instance, in the United States, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how credit information can be used, but broader data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe impose stricter controls on personal data handling.
Data brokers may gather information from the following sources:
  • Public Records: Court records, property records, voter registrations.
  • Online Activities: Browsing history, online purchases, social media activity.
  • Third-Party Sources: Information sold by other companies, such as retailers and financial institutions.

How to Protect Your Financial Privacy? 

While the presence of data brokers can feel invasive, there are proactive measures you can take to protect your financial privacy:
  • Privacy Settings: Regularly update privacy settings on social media platforms and other online accounts to limit the information shared publicly.
  • Credit Monitoring: Use credit monitoring services to keep an eye on your credit reports for any suspicious activity.
  • Secure Your Devices: Ensure your devices are protected with strong passwords, encryption, and up-to-date security software.
  • Limit Information Sharing: Be cautious about the personal information you share online and with businesses. Use pseudonyms and alternate email addresses when possible.
Many data brokers offer opt-out options that allow you to remove your information from their databases:
  • Direct Requests: Visit the websites of major data brokers and submit opt-out requests. This often involves providing identification to confirm your identity.
  • Opt-Out Services: Consider using services that help manage opt-out requests across multiple data brokers, saving time and effort.
  • Do-Not-Track Requests: Enable Do-Not-Track settings in your web browser and consider using browser extensions that block tracking.
Moreover, you can also leverage technology to safeguard your financial data like:
  • VPNs: Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to protect your online activity from being tracked.
  • Password Managers: Utilize password managers to generate and store complex, unique passwords for each of your online accounts.
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts for an added layer of security.

What to Do If Your Data Is Compromised?

If you suspect your financial data has been compromised, take these immediate steps:
  • Freeze Your Credit: Contact credit reporting agencies to freeze your credit, preventing new accounts from being opened in your name.
  • Monitor Accounts: Keep a close eye on your bank and credit accounts for unauthorized transactions.
  • Change Passwords: Update passwords for all your online accounts, prioritizing financial and email accounts.
After this, you can report data breaches and misuse to the appropriate authorities: 
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): In the U.S., report identity theft and fraud to the FTC at
  • Credit Bureaus: Notify the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) of any fraudulent activity.
  • Law Enforcement: File a report with your local police department to create an official record of the identity theft.


To sum up, we can say that these days it is more important than ever to understand the role of data brokers and their impact on financial privacy. Data brokers collect and sell vast amounts of personal information, often without our knowledge or consent, posing significant risks to our financial security and personal privacy.
By being informed and taking proactive measures, you can protect your personal information from unwanted access and misuse. In addition to that, PrivacyHawk can also play a crucial role in safeguarding your data. It monitors and protects your personal data by removing your private / personal information from the web and eliminates the risk of online fraud, scams, identity theft, and illegal sharing of personal data.
PrivacyHawk enables you to automatically control who uses and shares your personal data, helping you opt out or delete your data from thousands of companies. By doing so, PrivacyHawk not only protects your privacy but also helps prevent the malicious use of your data.
By integrating PrivacyHawk into your privacy strategy, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your financial and personal information is secure. Stay informed, stay protected, and take control of your digital identity. 
Try It Free
Download on the App Store Badge
Download on the Google Play Store Badge


PrivacyHawk, Inc. © 2024. All right reserved