Consumer auto data file frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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Q: Do Hedges & Company’s direct marketing mailing lists comply with the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)?

Yes. All of our mailing lists comply with Federal privacy laws that protect drivers. Our auto mailing lists are compiled from multiple sources and it’s important to note none of our records come from any state DMV records. Scroll down for more on DMV mailing list information.

For more information on privacy and DMV records please read this article that includes information on the DPPA.

Q: What is your consumer auto data file source?

We use multiple accurate data sources. Our mailing lists are a result of building databases and creating strategic alliances with the mailing list industry’s best wholesale data providers. We use a masterfile of 170 million US consumers including car, truck, motorcycle and even RV owners. We can drill down to consumers with a buying history of aftermarket performance parts and accessories, showing DIY behavior.

NOTE: Watch statistics you get from any list provider (even us) carefully and ask questions. There are sources of mailing lists that claim to cover “150 million” U.S. households or that promise “access to over 250 million households.” The US Census Bureau shows there over 128 million households in 2021, so any higher number is suspicious.

There are sources of mailing lists that claim to cover “300 million U.S. consumers.” The official US population for people 15 years and older in 2017 was 259 million, so any list source that claims to have a higher number is either inaccurate or includes millions of children under 15.

Ask questions. Years ago, a DMV mailing list was a simple thing to obtain. Today an automotive data file is more difficult.

Q: Are your automotive mailing lists current? Are they accurate?

Yes. All of our mailing lists are run through the National Change of Address (NCOA) system from the US Post Office, creating the most up to date and accurate data possible. We re-process lists one last time through NCOA in-house before delivery. This updates for recent movers and also lets you qualify for all applicable postal discounts. Our list data updates every Monday, giving you the most accurate data each week. The masterfile only uses records confirmed by at least two sources and confirmed by a third source within 12 months. About 275,000 new automotive records are added or updated each month. Also, we’re a National Change of Address service provider offering 18-month Change of Address (COA) updates and we process files and match them to the United States Postal Service 48-month Change of Address file. There are approximately 160 million permanent Change of Address records on file with the USPS.

Q: Do your lists come from state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs)?

No. All of our list data is from legal, accurate, alternative sources including finance companies, insurance companies, automobile dealerships, some automotive service chains and national OEM ownership clubs. We require that any vehicle owner record is validated as coming from a minimum of two sources before we consider it to be a viable record available to use.

Only a handful of states actually sell their registration data, and even then the Shelby Amendment requires states to allow drivers to opt out of this data, so states that sell data are not selling complete data in the first place.

Q: What is the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and the Shelby amendment?

The DPPA was enacted by Congress in 1994, as an amendment to 103 H.R. 3355, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and is Public Law No. 103-322 codified and amended by Public Law 106-69. It can be found within Title XXX, Section 300001. The DPPA aims to protect the privacy of personal information of drivers that is put together by the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DPPA was amended on June 1, 2000, with the Shelby Amendment, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “The Shelby Act.” The Shelby Amendment requires states to obtain a driver’s consent before giving out any personal information whether for an individual or in bulk. The DPPA allows the following information to be used as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2721:

  • Legitimate business needs in transactions started by the individual to verify accuracy of personal information.
  • Legitimate government agency needs.
  • Use in connection with a civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.
  • Use in matters of motor vehicle safety, theft, emissions, product recalls.
  • Motor vehicle market research and surveys.
  • Research activities and statistical reports, as long as personal information isn’t disclosed or used to contact individuals.
  • Insurance activities.
  • Notifications for towed or impounded vehicles.
  • Use by licensed investigators or security services or used by private toll transportation facilities.
  • A response to requests for individual records if the state has obtained express consent from the individual.
  • For direct marketing distribution if the state has obtained express consent from the individual.
  • Use by any requester where the requester can show written consent of the individual.
  • For any other legitimate state use as it relates to motor vehicle safety or public safety.

Q: How are your automotive mailing lists different from other mailing lists?

Our automotive mailing lists were created specifically for the automotive industry. We understand automotive consumers and we understand the automotive industry. In other words we know how to reach the customers you need to meet your goals. In the past two years alone we have supplied 10 million records of automotive owners, and our customers do a lot of repeat business with us.

Our mailing lists have been tested side-by-side with lists from other providers, and we have won more business by offering more deliverable addresses and higher response rates.

To be more specific, we use data from primary sources such as automotive organizations, warranty companies, online insurance quotations, major national OEM car clubs, automotive service chains and insurance companies. By using so many sources, we have a wide reach. Multiple data sources and cross-verification ensure overall accuracy.

Besides all of that, we really understand cars, trucks, and the automotive aftermarket better than most. If you need a mailing list of fifth generation Mustang owners, we know that means 2005-2013. If you need a mailing list of Jeep TJ owners, we know that means 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler.

Q: Are you able to remove duplicate records that exist in our customer file?

Yes, for an additional charge we can make sure that your list does not contain any customers already on file. We can dedupe at the street address level. If confidentiality of your existing records is a concern and you want maximum suppression of records by street address and by name, we accept MD5 hash encrypted files to protect your records. When you send us an encrypted file, we will only be able to see if our records match any of your records, we can then exclude a matched record from the file we send you. We will also gladly sign a confidentiality agreement at your request.

In addition, if you come back for additional lists in the future like many of our clients do, we can suppress new records against your previous lists.

Q: How do your mailing lists differ from modeled or predictor lists?

Our automotive mailing lists are compiled from sources that indicate ownership of an actual vehicle, whereas modeled and predictor lists use consumer data variables and statistical modeling to make an educated guess at what is in the consumer’s garage. Predictor or modeled mailing lists may work for some direct mailers but for our clients we wouldn’t recommend using these lists to market performance parts and accessories of specific makes and models. We recommend lists where the ownership of the vehicle has been confirmed, through several sources, giving you assurance that you are reaching the right consumer.

Q: Whatever happened to Polk automotive lists? Where can I get a DMV mailing list?

RL Polk was synonymous many years ago for automotive mailing lists. Sometimes people referred to these lists as “DMV mailing lists” or “Polk automotive lists.” Polk is still around under a different name. In July 2013, IHS acquired R. L. Polk & Co., including Polk and CARFAX. This division now operates as IHS Automotive, Driven by Polk, and as IHS Markit.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s Polk automotive lists were a popular way to reach car owners by direct mail. Or, back then you could also get a DMV mailing list.

The DPPA and Shelby Amendment mentioned above changed that and now we feel the best way to build mailing list data for vehicle owners is to use the process we rely on: build it from multiple, verifiable sources. We get questions about Polk automotive lists all the time and many times people don’t realize vehicle owner mailing lists are still available. We should note that Polk, CARFAX® and IHS Markit™ are service marks of IHS Markit, a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker “INFO” and have no relation to Hedges & Company.

Today, InfoGROUP™ operates a website mailing list business and website called Polk City Directories® and that website includes a section on Automobile Data, claiming current data on “…more than 100 million automobile owners.” We should note that these service marks are property of InfoGROUP, no relation to Hedges & Company.

More questions?

Contact Hedges & Company today for more information if you have more questions, including on the mythical “DMV mailing list.”

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