Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Can anyone comment on his statement that having mail delivered to your house puts you on searchable commercial lists?

I’m wondering if it’s actually physical mail that’s at issue, or rather having your home address as say a billing address on a site you buy something from.

This one seemed fairly tough to avoid 100%, so I want to know more about the plausibility.

I worked for a company that bought mailing lists and linked them to public records. We didn’t sell to marketers but it did open my eyes that anyone who isn’t prohibited will sell info.

Some industries (utilities, banking) are prohibited from selling customer info. But most aren’t. If you ever subscribe to a magazine, donate to a charity, enter a sweepstakes, etc your info goes into commercial lists.

Gotcha. So not just physical mail: anything with your physical address on it that isn't prohibited from selling it may do so.

Cynically, that’s how I operate. A friend donated to Southern Poverty Law Center and never ordered anything. They entered their address on the credit card form and now gets mail from dozens of orgs including about a piece per week from SPLC.

Even billing addresses can be the off-site mail delivery services. Banks do need to know your physical address in the US due to the Patriot Act, but they don't have to put it in your statement or treat it as your billing address.

At least in Germany, the mail carrier (Deutsche Post) offers data cleanup & enrichment for address data, i.e. you tell them "I have John Doe, 123 SomeWrongStreet, ZIP" and they'll say 'He lives on 123 SomeStreet". Iirc, they collect this data (among other sources) from mail that was delivered to that address, since they OCR the recipient address for sorting etc anyhow. I wouldn't be surprised if they also (had; it's probably illegal with GDPR) sold access in general.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact