'Opt Out,' a CBS 58 Investigation finds the state is selling your information
Buying and selling personal information is big business and the state of Wisconsin made nearly eleven million dollars last year on selling your private information. In a CBS 58 Investigation we uncovered your driving record, birth date, address, and information are all up for grabs. All of that information is supposed to help companies check their driver's records but as Investigative Reporter Sarah Barwacz found, the program is not closely monitored.
When you head to the DMV you fill out your name, address, license, and other personal information. But for drivers like Shawn Mitchell, there's one question he never considered.
Do you ever think about where your information goes? “No you just think it goes into Madison into the big computer.\"
That's why CBS 58 pulled the database and found a company can buy your information unless you opt out. In 2014 the Department of Transportation made nearly 11-million-dollars selling everything from your name and address, to your driving record, including DUI's, tickets, and suspensions.
It was news to Mitchell, “(Reporter) What kind of concerns do you have about that? ‘It depends on why they're giving it away, if you're selling it, shouldn't I get a portion of that?'\"
So who is buying your information? We found the state sold it to more than 2-thousand-900 companies. The program is supposed to help insurance companies like Dave Brown with B and J Insurance.
“If you told me you have a clean driving record and I run the report and you have five speeding tickets and a couple of accidents, it helps to know where we're going to place the risk,\" Brown said.
But Brown says he understands the database could be used for other things.
Brown says, “They could use it for marketing advertising trying to sell them something, maybe something even worse, maybe identity theft.\"
After scanning through hundreds of records we uncovered charities, banks, attorneys, and research companies all bought your information. We brought this concern to the Director of Driver Services DMV, Ann Perry.
\"(Reporter to Ann Perry) Does the state check to make sure it's not used for marketing purposes? The federal law prohibits it.\"
While the DMV claims your information is protected, even the form on the state's website that allows you to 'opt out\" of the program says, quote \"your information may be used for marketing purposes.\" When we asked the director she wasn't sure the companies are checked up on.
When we asked Ann Perry, Director Driver Services DMV if anyone is checking to make sure they're not used for marketing purposes she said, “That's a really good question.\"
As for our driver Mitchell, he says he knows what he plans to do.
“I'd like to opt out, I'd like to opt out, and I'd like to be told up front that I can opt out.\"
After our interview with the DMV they changed their online form. It no longer says your information can be used for marketing purposes. You have the option to opt out on the application at the DMV make sure you read the fine print. To ‘opt out' click HERE.