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Monday, August 20, 2007


Junk mail list company, Worldata, out of Boca Raton, FL, has just released its annual report of how much your name and private information are selling for on the open market. Didn’t know you were a commodity? Well, you are, and a hot one based on yearly mailing list sales of over $4 billion. (See earlier posts) I was a stock broker before becoming a data broker, and the company I worked for sold commodities like pork bellies, corn and soybeans. One thing I do remember for sure…the farmer raising that corn was paid for his crop. However, as the name-holder of your sensitive data that is being sold for an astronomical figure, you receive nothing. Somehow this doesn’t seem right considering your “at risk” factor (ID theft), along with the fact that many of the 640 data breaches since 2005 have originated with companies involved in the junk mail medium. You might call it potential double jeopardy in losses. Some types of lists have gone up, like databases (ChoicePoint, Acxiom), and some have gone down like e-mail names of the AOL variety. According to Worldata, the average merchandise buyer’s name sells for around 10 cents each. That’s hard to believe when lists like Brookstone sell your name for almost 17 cents, Restoration Hardware for just over 19 cents, or Eddie Bauer almost 18 cents. You probably don’t care about any of this because, regardless, nothing goes in your pocket. But I do have a point. Because your name and personal data are such a precious commodity, and because is you, the individual, not the company who might lose your private information, that suffers the losses, you should be in control over your sensitive data. Think about it.

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