Consumer-Profiling Equifax Acquires Privacy-Protecting TrustedID

Credit-reporting and data-brokering company Equifax has acquired Palo Alto-based TrustedID, which protects users' financial information online, the company said today.

equifax, data brokers, privacy protection, trustedID,

equifax, data brokers, privacy protection, trustedID, Credit-reporting and data-brokering company Equifax has acquired Palo Alto-based TrustedID, which protects users’ financial information online, the company said today.

TrustedID will become part of Equifax’s direct-to-consumer unit, Personal Solutions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This marks the start of an exciting new chapter in our ongoing journey to empower consumers with the knowledge and tools to be their financial best,” said Trey Loughran, the Personal Solutions president.

Equifax provides one of the most widely used consumer credit scores in the country. It is also among the data brokering companies that lawmakers have questioned about their privacy practices. The company gathers data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide and puts together “customized insights” for marketing purposes.

TrustedID specializes in products that help protect consumers from the threat of identity theft, but it also makes products that allow users to opt-out of snail mail advertising lists and monitor and manage their online reputation within social media services.

TrustedID could potentially funnel the information it helps consumers protect into the consumer profiles of its new parent company, but it would likely face an FTC crackdown if it did, according to Justin Brookman of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

“If you’re marketing a solution as a privacy-protection service, the FTC will probably require you to be very explicit if you want to also use registration data to add to other data broker databases. Anything other than very clear disclosure and permission is likely to be deemed a deceptive omission if the fundamental product you’re marketing is designed to get you off of those sorts of lists,” Brookman said.

Instead, Brookman said the move may indicate that companies like Equifax that stand on precarious grounds in terms of consumer privacy are beginning to see the need to assuage consumers’ fears by offering protections.