Your personal info and us

OK, this is a little bit inside baseball,  but in the age of digital promiscuity, everybody should be interested in who gets their personal data and why.

A chain of New York pawnshops is suing the New York police for $61 million in a dispute about a national pawn reporting database.

According to the New York Post, the cops want to force the pawnshops to hand over their customer information to a company called LeadsOnline.

Gem’s owners say they stopped using the Texas-based LeadsOnline because they feared the service violated federal privacy laws, which they are required to follow.


At Kamaaina Loan, we’re concerned, because the Honolulu police have been trying to persuade the state Legislature to force island pawnshops to also participate in a national database (the big ones are LeadsOnline and BWI).

Long before Leads or BWI, Kamaaina Loan set up the first Internet reporting service, which lets Maui police see what items we have taken in on a pawn loan or a sale. The local cops can match this list with any information they have about stolen goods.

If there’s a hit, the police can 1) come pick up the allegedly stolen goods; and 2) find out the name, address, phone number, driver license number (or other ID), and thumbprint of the person we obtained it from.

This is, we believe, a useful protection for honest customers and for ourselves.

But we are very worried about what happens if some national or international ” big data” company is given access to our records. They won’t say what they do with the data. Who they sell or give it to. Or why.

We believe our sales records should go to the local police. It’s required by state law. But we don’t think it should go any further.

Other pawnbrokers, like Gem in New York, agree.