Acxiom, the “world’s largest commercial database on consumers,” does not make it easy.
Or rather, they don’t make it easy for the consumers to find out information about themselves. It’s probably a whole lot easier to use if you yourself are a marketer.
For you as a consumer, however, Acxiom provides two ways to access your own data. Neither of them are complete and one of them involved me mailing a five dollar check to the company’s office in Arkansas.
I will get more to that later but first let’s dwell a bit in anger. Acxiom makes consumers, whose very data they are selling as a product without any permission whatsoever, pay five dollars to get a report about themselves. Five dollars! After having to mail a paper check to the company I expected a thick paper report to come by mail in return. Instead I got a two-page PDF by email. Gah. But I’m getting all out of order.
First approach: AboutTheData
Acxiom launched AboutTheData.com in 2013 in order to give consumers “a glimpse of some of the details the company has collected about them.” I dipped my toe in the Acxiom water by creating an account. The site asks you a series of sort of trick questions in order to do so, such as: “which address have you not lived at?” The first time I went through the process I boycotted before finishing; I didn’t want my answers to contribute to making my Axiom profile even more accurate. Two days later, I gave into curiosity. They knew the answers anyway.
After creating an account the site shows you data about yourself in six different categories: characteristic data, home data, household vehicle data, household economic data, household purchase data, household interests data.
For me some of these sections showed up as empty. For some, this totally made sense. I do not nor have I have I ever owned a car. Other categories suspiciously showed up as empty on AboutTheData but were pretty comprehensive in the reference report I later requested. Hm.
What I did learn from AboutTheData? I think they think I am my own child. Or somehow, that I have a 16-17 year old female daughter I didn’t know about.
They were on point with my credit card data though.
Second approach: US Reference Report
All of Acxiom’s web design budget seems to have been blown on AboutTheData. The page on their main site informing you how to file a reference report is pretty sparse. The gist is this: If you submit a request for a report through their website, respond affirmatively to several emails and separately mail a check to Arkansas made payable to Acxiom you too can receive a two-page PDF about yourself.
The details were sparse but Acxiom does indeed know the address of every apartment I’ve ever lived in and the length of my stay.
I was interested to note too, the well filled-in voter info section of the report. I was particularly interested to note the ways that it was on the nose (I am indeed a registered Democrat) and the ways it was not (I’ve voted much more recently than 2013).
My victories, meaning their inaccuracies, felt small. In the end, Acxiom’s got my five dollars and my consumer profile too.