A credit rating agency and data broker that provides customized software and services to law enforcement and US immigration authorities
TransUnion is a credit rating agency that provides an expansive information database to its clients. TransUnion collects information on finances, identity, healthcare, insurance, and more from banks and other financial institutions, private databases, and public records. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, TransUnion is one of the top three credit reporting agencies, with Equifax and Experian. In 2020, the company generated $2.7 billion in revenue and had 8,000 employees across 30 countries.
In 2013, TransUnion acquired TLO, a company focused on producing information and analytics software that identifies risk for clients. TLO’s main product TLOxp uses TransUnion “data matching capabilities across various datasets to identify and investigate relationships among people, assets, locations and businesses,” and claims to “offer enhanced due diligence, threat assessment, identity authentication and fraud prevention and detection solutions” to law enforcement. The system includes over 100 billion public and proprietary data points. With data on more than 95% of the U.S. population, TLOxp offers law enforcement agencies customized tools for searching through its system.
TransUnion has multiple contracts with both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Most of them are for access to credit reporting databases, presumably for background checks on prospective agents. However, one ICE contract worth over $600,000 for “Risk Mitigation Services” is significantly larger than the rest at and may represent ICE’s use of TLOxp or another TransUnion product that is tailored specifically for the agency to use in surveillance of immigrants. ICE awarded TransUnion the contract in September 2020 and it is scheduled to end in September 2023. Similarly, CBP awarded TransUnion a contract specifically for TLOxp, but that contract ended in 2015. Reports from organizations like Just Futures Law and Mijente reveal how ICE uses information from data brokers like TransUnion to track immigrants slated for deportation.
TLOxp has also been used at fusion centers such as the Austin Regional Intelligence Center in Texas. Fusion centers are collaborative efforts between the Department of Justice (DOJ), DHS, and other federal, state, and local agencies to share information that can be used to surveil people for arrests, incarceration, and deportation.
In June 2021, TLOxp provided police in Scottsdale, Arizona with an incorrect Social Security number, leading to a fine and garnishment of over $1,000 from the wrong person. Both TransUnion and the Scottsdale Police Department insisted that the incident was isolated. According to a public records request, the purchasing office was “unable to find any contract or award information to vendor TLOxp and/or TransUnion and/or TransUnion Business Services with the City of Scottsdale or Scottsdale Police Department.”