If you missed out, Jeff of the Prosper group FANAFI Finance and the now closed My Microfinance blog had accused Prosper of selling their personally identifiable information to junk mailers. After some back and forth, Jeff announced a renewed interest in Prosper but would not talk about how the junk mail bruhaha had been resolved. It was just hanging out there.
A few things have happened that have cleared the air for me. First, Jeff did an interview with RateLadder where he addresses, among other things, his accusation:
Recently you had made a claim that Prosper had been selling your contact information. Do you still believe that?
Unfortunately I never had a chance to set the record straight on this one since they haven’t ‘officially’ replied to me. Prosper is not likely the only company possibly divulged our information based upon the following… Catherine has yet to reply to me on the record about their findings. However my ‘other’ contact at Prosper.com has told me that they have not sold our data to any third parties, but if they had it would not include any fictitious data or name such as the one we keep there. It would be nice however to hear this from Catherine (you have my email address, use it). This sort of clears it up enough for me to press on with the events of your next question as I trust my ‘other’ contact without condition… My one wish however… Official contact. I hate using back-channels to get information out of people, especially corporations who should know better.
Next, Prosper did reply to my inquiry into their inquiry and still does not think they're the culprit. Their findings:
- They made contact with the company that was sending junk mail to Jeff and they claimed no knowledge of Prosper.
- Prosper does not have "FANAFI Foundation" in any of their databases or records. The group Jeff started was called "FANAFI Financial".
- Even if FANAFI Foundation was in their records, junk mailers typically buy individual names and contact information, not group names.
And finally, Jeff has possibly identified an alternative source of the junk mail, as he has related in an e-mail exchange with me:
... the source of the information has been found to be PayPal.com, which, upon re-inquiry with the company who had called to offer credit to one 'FANAFI Foundation' corrected himself to say that indeed PAYPAL, not Prosper had given them our information (bigger oopsie for those of you who use PayPal.com by the way). We do carry a business account with PayPal.com, but had not made the link until the source of the original data pointed me toward that account. Upon checking, yes, we are indeed registered there with that name, which will be changed to see if the calls and junk mail shift away.
I don't hold back from criticizing Prosper when they do things wrong, but that didn't happen this time. Nothing to see here. Move along.