Accuracy of Commercial Data Brokers
PrivacyActivism has released a study of ChoicePoint and Acxiom, two of the U.S.’s largest data brokers. The study looks at accuracy of information and responsiveness to requests for reports.
It doesn’t look good.
From the press release:
100% of the eleven participants in the study discovered errors in background check reports provided by ChoicePoint. The majority of participants found errors in even the most basic biographical information: name, social security number, address and phone number (in 67% of Acxiom reports, 73% of ChoicePoint reports). Moreover, over 40% of participants did not receive their reports from Acxiom—and the ones who did had to wait an average of three months from the time they requested their information until they
I spoke with Deborah Pierce, the Executive Director of PrivacyActivism. She made a couple of interesting points.
First, it was very difficult for them to find a legal way to do this study. There are no mechanisms for any kind of oversight of the industry. They had to find companies who were doing background checks on employees anyway, and who felt that participating in this study with PrivacyActivism was important. Then those companies asked their employees if they wanted to anonymously participate in the study.
Second, they were surprised at just how bad the data is. The most shocking error was that two people out of eleven were listed as corporate directors of companies that they had never heard of. This can’t possibly be statistically meaningful, but it is certainly scary.
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