Friday, March 1st, 2019 (8 comments
Lexis Nexis - The bottomless pit of user data
LexisNexis (which acquired ChoicePoint) is the largest data-broker in the world. They create vast profiles on people and use that information to create various reports that they sell to companies of all kinds. These reports are used to make decisions about renting, insurance and more. In the past these reports have been purchased by law enforcement and criminal organizations; all to find out more information about you.
It might be a good idea to find out what's in your report, but it turns out neither simple web searching or LexisNexis themselves do much for listing out all the types of data they know about you. Well here's the list of information they had (or could have had) from my personal LexisNexis dossier:
Auto/Property Insurance Records:
LexisNexis is tied into the "Current Carrier" insurance information system used by insurance companies and agencies when deciding to issue you a policy. Think of it like a "credit report for insurance".
This includes 7 years worth of:
- Name of insurance company
- Your policy number
- Type of policy (auto, boat, fire, quake, tenant, home, etc).
- Risk type (standard, preferred, facility, etc).
- Policy start date
- Policy termination date and reason for termination
- Names of each subject found on the policy
For auto, this also includes:
- Insured vehicle (including VIN, year, and make)
- Type of vehicle
- Coverage amounts
For property, this also includes:
- Address of property
- Eviction records
Personal information that may be included
- Date of Birth (partially omitted; ex. like 06/##/1970)
- Social Security Number (Minus the last four digits)
- Driver's license number (partially omitted)
"C.L.U.E"® insurance loss information reports (apparently reports on whether you're a high risk person or not)
This report lists circumstances relating to theft while working at a retail company (admitted or convicted).
In my case, this was of course blank so I don't know specifically what data items would have been included. Most entertaining, there's a line in the report that reads "If you believe we should have information about you in our Esteem Database, let us know"…. Wow.
If any company ever pays LexisNexis to perform a background check on you, LexisNexis will keep the information for future sales purposes. This may include your full date driving record and your personal credit file.
Screennow ® report
This report shows results of a national criminal records search.
- Professional licences held (Doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, barber, insurance agent, pilot, etc)
- Address history
- Deed transfer data
- Aircraft registration
- Loan information (where the loan was secured with collateral: i.e. a car)
- Bankruptcies, liens, and judgements
- Controlled substance license (in case you want to know who can legally get illegal drugs)
- Business affiliations – When you're an officer or principal of an incorporated company
- Significant shareholder records
They claim they'll only have history of employers who previously asked LexisNexis to do a background check on you.
Does that make you uncomfortable?
Data brokers are just a business like any other, but as the credit report companies proved, buying and reselling data carelessly leads to disaster. Considering that these reports are FAR more detailed with a much wider variety of information, I can only imagine the consequences of allowing them to proceed as they have been.
Fortunately, you may not have to.
I was able to order my report using this webpage. I believe that doing so would be a good idea, but after that, make sure to also use their opt out procedures if you can.
It turns out that they'll only let your data go if you can prove that you're an identity theft victim or in imminent danger of bodily harm (police officer, public officials, etc). But it's easy to understand why they make it hard. After all, why would you set free one of your prize milk cows for no good reason?
In the end, I hope that strong regulation is introduced before we reach a problem like we did with identity theft.
Tags: Big Business
, Data Brokering