How To Put Consumers In Control Of Their Data, According To Truework’s CEO
Over the past two decades, consumers’ lives have expanded to include digital footprints. While widespread digitization has ushered in welcome benefits, it also has opened the door to identity theft and other cybersecurity concerns. As a result, many people feel helpless when it comes to keeping their personal information private.
Pew Research studied the relationship between consumers and online privacy in 2019. The results showed that most Americans felt they had lost control over their data. For instance, 81% of Pew study participants said they could do nothing about the data companies collected on them.
Some regulations and laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are chipping away at this issue. However, there are still gaps in the system. That’s why I sought out the insights of entrepreneur and champion of privacy rights Ryan Sandler, the CEO of Truework.
Sandler’s company has risen as one of the most trusted platforms providing third-party income and employment verifications. Recently, Truework snagged $50 million in a Series C fundraising round. The company intends to use the influx of capital to continue growing and protecting its network of consumer, corporate, and nonprofit users.
Serenity Gibbons: Let’s get right to the heart of the matter and talk about the biggest concerns that consumers have about their data when it comes to income and employment verification.
Ryan Sandler: Believe it or not, one of the top concerns involves data accuracy. The Wall Street Journal wrote recently about consumers receiving rejections for loans because their credit scores were incorrect. This is heartbreaking and shouldn’t happen.
Other concerns involve what I call the “four Cs”: coverage, complexity, close time, and cost. In terms of coverage and complexity, consumers want a system that offers them a streamlined, safe way to send all their data to one place so employers and lenders can see it. Having everything available in one place reduces the time it takes to close. Ultimately, this efficiency affects the cost associated with verifying the protected data.
Gibbons: Those are a lot of concerns. Do you think that they’re all valid?
Sandler: They are absolutely valid. Consumers haven’t been in control of their data for a while and that’s a problem Truework is trying to correct. Building the future with a consumer first mindset goes into every decision we make at Truework. We are putting millions in control of their data and streamlining the lending process for both lenders and borrowers. When I worked at LinkedIn, I was shocked to discover that income data was frequently being sold behind the scenes without consumers’ awareness—or their permission.
Your income, my income… that’s some of our most private data. Many people don’t discuss their salaries with their family members or friends, and they certainly don’t want that information sold without their input or knowledge.
Gibbons: That’s scary. It seems to also point to the fact that companies have a responsibility to protect consumer data, including employee records.
Sandler: They do. Companies are expected to shelter private data from the possibility of breaches. Obviously, that begins with their infrastructure as well as their ability to keep up with security certifications and best practices. But companies need to go a step further and get the permission of consumers to share data, too.
Gibbons: You mention your company, Truework. What are some ways that Truework’s processes address these top consumer data issues?
Sandler: Let’s start with coverage. We use a “waterfall” system that allows us to safely and speedily obtain income and employment data from up to 95% of U.S.-based employees, including gig economy workers. We’re set up as a one-stop, single integration clearinghouse that utilizes the most up-to-date verification and data sources.
When a company like an employer or a lender needs to verify a consumer’s data, we check the 35 million records in our instant network. If we have someone’s information within those records, we email them for permission to release the information. If we don’t have the information, we look for it ethically and responsibly as part of the comprehensive waterfall system. Our goal is to be consumer-driven, returning control and privacy at every step.
Gibbons: I understand that Truework is also a credit reporting agency (CRA), correct?
Sandler: Yes. Truework operates as a CRA. Being a CRA allows consumers to flag incorrect data they notice. This enhances confidence for both consumers and the lenders as well as employers relying on the data they receive. In the rare case of an income report mistake, we don’t charge clients for the data and we make it easy for the consumer to change it.
Gibbons: What do you see as the future of consumer privacy?
Sandler: I expect that we’ll continue to see more acts and laws to keep consumer data better protected. From our perspective and success, we’ve proven that when you put consumers’ needs first, you can make a huge dent in privacy concerns while still allowing data to flow securely and quickly from consumer to lender.