The sellers have affirmed that the information is the “high quality products,” saying that the personal data is from “reliable sources.” Especially, the goods can be delivered directly to buyers, or through emails, up to the buyers’ willingness.

The goods put on sale are the list of directors of the businesses operating in many business fields in the big cities and provinces of Hanoi, HCM City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

Customers can also buy the list of chief accountants and VIPs in businesses, the list of the VIPs who are the big clients of the companies, gold trading floors, hotels, real estate projects’ managers, or the key personnel of enterprises.

According to a seller named Duong, VND700,000 is a reasonable price for the informative personal data with the details classified in categories in a scientific way.

“There are the full names of businesses, addresses, fixed line and mobile numbers, emails of businessmen of 500,000 businesses, big and small,” Duong said. He tried to persuade people that the list is very useful to businessmen since they can easily find potential customers.

Duong said the last updated version was in February 2013. There was another one in June but it was only additional information about business in the North. “Two versions cost 700,000 dongs. The information is updated twice a year and free for those who bought it earlier,” said Duong. As such, buyers only have to pay less than 1 million dongs, a modest sum of money, to obtain the database, necessary for their business, updated regularly.

Duong affirmed the data source is reliable, which he collected during his working period, not being copied from the internet.

Duong offered many different payment methods. Buyers can pay in cash or remit money through Duong’s account. If the buyer meets Duong in person, he would give “the product” contained in a CD disc; if buyers remit money via bank, Duong would provide the link from which buyers can download the database.

In fact, personal information was traded in 2012 already, but the trade has boomed recently. The police have discovered some cases of buying and selling personal information, and have expressed their worry about the increase of this phenomenon.

The buyers are mostly insurance companies, financial companies, banks and ad firms. In order to obtain the database of millions of people, sellers collect the information from companies’ personnel or collect themselves in their working period.

To assure the accuracy of the database, some companies running this business even hire other companies to verify the information.

According to Mr. Tran Vu Hai (Hanoi Lawyer Association), trading personal information without permission is an illegal act. “Violators would be charged administrative penalties or sentenced to imprisonment depending on the database’s security level, the severity of the case and the victims’ decision to sue or not”, said Hai.

Most people selling personal information only provide customers with personal contacts like telephone numbers, email address, home or office address to invite people to use products and services. They would only have to pay a fine since it would cost an expensive fee to sue them.

VnExpress- June 27, 2013