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How data brokers are selling all your personal info for less than a rupee to whoever wants it

By Aritra Sarkhel & Neha Alawadhi, ET Bureau

If data is the new oil, then there is a gigantic oil spill all around you. Your personal data be it your residential address, your phone number, email id, details of what you bought online, age, marital status, income and profession is all up for sale. Most of this personal data is sold for less than a rupee per person the cost of a chewing gum.

Over one month, ET approached companies called ‘data brokers’ who hawk their services on online listings and sell personal information posing as a prospective buyer. For anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000, we were offered personal data of up to 1 lakh people in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi.

The lists up for sale are creative and granular. One data broker said he could get lists of high net worth individuals, salaried people, credit card holders, car owners and retired women in any given vicinity.

Some brokers sent free samples: excel sheets with personal data of people in Bengaluru, split by address and income profiles. ET called a dozen people from these lists to verify their details. “It’s scary to say the least,” said Hyderabad-based Rajashekar, whose data like name, address and credit card ownership was procured from a Gurgaon-based data broker who sold ET a sample database of nearly 3,000 people with Axis Bank and HDFC Bank credit cards. The price tag: Rs 1,000.
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