Forget telephoto lenses and fake mustaches: The most important tools for America’s 35,000 private investigators are database subscription services.

For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of public and nonpublic records — known addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car — and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior. Read more…

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Data-fusion companies are making files on everyone — even you