U.S. data mining companies are helping banks target credit card customers even if the cards are not in the customers best interest, a consumer advocate said.
Data companies rake through bank and court records to create lists of likely customers, then sell those lists to banks and other lenders, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Even hard-pressed customers, like Brenda Jerez of Jersey City, N.J., who just emerged from bankruptcy, find their mailboxes under siege by offers from credit card companies, the Times reported.
Targeting risky customers continues, even if the number of defaults on home, car and credit card debt has pushed the financial system into deep trouble.
"They get people who they know are in trouble, they know are desperate, and they aggressively market a product to them which is not in their best interest," said Jim Campen, executive director of the Americans for Fairness in Lending told the Times.
"It's the wrong product at the wrong time," he said.
Data companies compile unregulated personal information, including customers' names, addresses, Social Security numbers, marital status, education history, and types of car, television cable service and magazine subscriptions they use, the Times reported.