FTC Targets Data Broker Companies

Warned 10 companies they may be violating federal laws against collecting and selling private information


Federal officials have intensified their scrutiny of the data brokerage industry by issuing a series of formal letters in recent days alerting companies that they may be violating federal restrictions on the collection and sale of personal information.

The letters to 10 companies — ranging from firms that compile consumer lists for credit offersto a Web site that helps parents screen potential nannies — amounted to warning shots at a large and fast-growing industry that gathers personal information and markets it to a variety of customers.