With most of us spending hours each day in front of a screen, it should come as no surprise that a significant amount of our personal data is available online and available to almost anyone willing to pay a few dollars to access it.
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This access to our information is made even easier by data brokers—companies that scour public records, social media sites and other online sources to collect personal details like age, phone number, address, demographic information, employment history, political activity, shopping habits and more. Data brokers can then sell that aggregated information to a variety of buyers—including government agencies, private companies and individuals—to generate billions of dollars in revenue every year.
What is InfoTracer?
As one of the larger, more visible online data brokers, InfoTracer enables users to complete comprehensive background searches on virtually any U.S. resident, delivering a deluge of data with a few clicks of a mouse. InfoTracer draws its information from court documents, criminal records, social networks and other online sources to compile a complete package of personal information about an individual, which it can then store in its database and ultimately sell as part of its membership fee.
InfoTracer is a subsidiary of InfoPay, a Boston-based company founded in 2007 with the mission of making publicly available data easily accessible to the masses. Since then, the company’s resources have grown to include more than 2 billion searchable records, which it mines to compile reports on individuals that are then sold to its users.
InfoTracer and other data brokers can be used for legitimate purposes, such as searching for information about long-lost family members or ensuring the integrity of a new child-care provider, but they can also have negative impacts when they are used to target aggressive marketing practices or pursue individuals for the purpose of stalking or harassing them.
How Much Does InfoTracer Cost?
InfoTracer bills itself as one of the most affordable sources of personal data on the internet, offering a $14.95 monthly membership that includes unlimited people searches. In addition to comprehensive background searches, members can also obtain targeted results by using stand-alone searches for arrest records, property records, contact information, civil court history and more. InfoTracer is also one of the only data brokers using facial recognition technology to help users find the information they want.
For their $14.95 monthly investment, InfoTracer members have access to information updated daily, as well as 24/7 support from the company’s customer service team.
What Kind of Information Does InfoTracer Provide?
The public records reports available through InfoTracer include:
- Criminal Records: Arrests, warrants, felony records, conviction and disposition details, misdemeanor charges, mug shots, police records and DUI/DWI records
- Court Records: Records from municipal, county, state and federal courts, including bankruptcy filings, property and tax liens, legal judgements, criminal and traffic court cases
- Contact Information: Current and prior addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and business addresses, including reverse email lookup
- Assets: Ownership records for property, vehicles, aircraft, boats, businesses and other assets, as well as information about income, investments and net worth
- Social Media and Online Presence: Social media profiles, photos, links and other public web accounts
- Vital Records: Birth, marriage and divorce records
- Professional Licenses: Active and expired professional licenses in a variety of fields, including medical, dental, legal, real estate, trades and more
- Political Contributions: History of contributions to political parties and individual campaigns
What Kind of Information Does InfoTracer Collect from Users?
InfoTracer claims that it does not collect any personally identifiable information about its paid subscribers unless they expressly choose to provide that information to the company. However, in order to access InfoTracer’s data sources, users must provide their name, email address, credit card or other payment information and a billing address. The company states that it does not collect or store personal financial information provided in connection with members’ purchases, and that all financial information is processed through a third-party vendor.
InfoTracer Opt Out Guide
If you’re concerned about your information being so easily accessible to anyone with $14.95 and an email address, you can request that InfoTracer remove your aggregated information from its records. When you complete the opt-out form on InfoTracer’s website, the company agrees to purge your record from its database. If you prefer, you may also fax or mail your request to (617) 507-0410 or InfoTracer Data Management Department, P.O. Box 103068, Boston, MA 02113. For the fastest response, the company recommends using the automated online form on its site.
Frequently Asked Questions About InfoTracer Data Removal
Where does the information on InfoTracer come from?
InfoTracer draws on more than 3,500 sources of publicly available information, including official public records custodians or repositories such as state and local agencies, courts and police departments that make records available to the general public by request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. To correct your official public record or make it unavailable for public access, a request must be filed with each individual agency, court or department with a record in your name.
Will my information be removed permanently?
Once InfoTracer processes your opt-out request, your information will no longer appear in searches of its databases. However, opting out doesn’t remove your information from the internet—it’s still out there via other data brokers as well as the thousands of publicly-available sources that InfoTracer used to create your file in the first place, which is why you’ll need to contact each of these sources to ask for your records to be removed (or use a service like Removaly to complete this time-consuming and tedious process for you).
How long does it take for my information to be removed?
Once you have submitted your opt-out request to InfoTracer, your information is typically removed within 72 hours, although this timing may vary.
Is the process of removing my information from InfoTracer secure?
Whether you use a comprehensive data removal service like Removaly or complete the opt-out process yourself, any information you submit is encrypted using secure socket layer (SSL) technology that protects it from potential breaches, making the removal process extremely secure.
What can I do about my information appearing in search engine results?
Once you have completed your opt-out request and InfoTracer removes your information from its databases, your information may continue to appear in online search results until the primary search engines (Google and Bing) re-index the InfoTracer site, which can take days. To request that search engines remove outdated results more expediently, you can contact both Google and Bing directly.
Does InfoTracer provide credit reporting data?
InfoTracer is not considered a consumer reporting agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and is therefore not a legal source of consumer or credit-reporting data as part of the FCRA. Information obtained through InfoTracer cannot be used to discriminate against consumers or determine their eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or government benefits.
What if I have more than one record on InfoTracer?
When InfoTracer culls data from various public records databases, it may occasionally obtain information that results in the creation of duplicate records. These duplicates most commonly result from name variations such as maiden and married names, nicknames and middle initials; multiple addresses listed as a current address; or combinations of records that are imported at the same time. As a result, you may end up having more than one InfoTracer record, in which case you would need to complete a separate opt-out request for each record or profile.
What if I don’t have time to complete the opt-out process?
While completing the opt-out process on InfoTracer may seem relatively simple, doing so still won’t completely eliminate your online exposure. For one thing, opting-out only applies after the date your request is processed, so any reports purchased prior to that date will still exist in the hands of any companies, individuals or other data brokers who paid to access them.
Secondly, just removing your information from InfoTracer won’t delete it from the original public sources of information that exist as part of the records of thousands of government agencies and other organizations. The only way to ensure your information is completely scrubbed from the internet is to complete an individual request with each one of these sources, which could take you months to accomplish on your own. The most efficient and comprehensive approach to online data removal is to use a service like Removaly, saving you thousands of hours and guaranteeing that every nook and cranny of the internet has been swept to locate and safeguard your personal data.
InfoTracer and The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
In 2018, the California state legislature approved a robust data privacy law to empower consumers with more control over their personal data. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which went into effect on January 1, 2020, endows consumers with the following rights related to their information:
- The right to know about the personal information a business collects about them, including how it is used and shared
- The right to delete personal information businesses collect from them
- The right to opt out from the sale of their information by businesses or other entities
- The right to be protected against discrimination for exercising their rights under the CCPA
The CCPA defines personal information as information that identifies or could reasonably be linked with a specific consumer or household, such as names or aliases, postal addresses, online usernames, Internet Protocol addresses, email addresses, account names, Social Security Numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers and other similar identifiers. Additional details that fall into the category of personal information may include a person’s telephone number, employment history, bank account or credit card number or any other financial, medical information or health insurance information.
Under the CCPA, businesses—including data brokers like InfoTracer—must provide consumers with specific notices explaining their privacy practices around personal data. California residents have the right to request disclosure from businesses detailing the specific information businesses have about them and how they use that information, as well as the right to request that the business delete that information and prohibit them from selling it to others. The law also gives Californians the right to be notified about what information is being collected and what the business plans to do with it prior to or at the time of collection. Businesses cannot force consumers to waive their rights under the CCPA or discriminate against them for exercising these rights.
What is the right to opt-out?
The CCPA gives consumers the right to opt-out of the collection and sale of their information by submitting a request to the business. Once the business receives your opt-out request, they are legally prohibited from selling your information unless you give them explicit permission to do so in the future. Businesses are permitted to ask you to opt back in every 12 months.
What is the right to know?
The right to know gives you the power to request that businesses disclose certain details about the personal information they have collected about you, including:
- Categories of personal information collected
- Specific pieces of personal information collected
- Sources from which the business collected the information
- Purposes for which the business uses the information
- Third-party categories with whom the business shares or sells information
- Information categories that the business sells or shares with third parties
You are entitled to request this information for the 12-month period prior to the date of your request, and businesses must furnish it to you at no charge.
How do I know which data brokers are collecting and selling my personal information?
California law requires data brokers to register with the state’s Attorney General and provide basic information about their business practices. The California Data Broker Registry is available at https://oag.ca.gov/data-brokers. The site includes contact information and a web address for each broker, as well as details to assist consumers in exercising their rights within the CCPA.