7 On Your Side: Who's looking at your salary

When you give up some of your personal information to get a loan, you probably expect them to call your employer and ask, "Does Michael Finney work there and how much does he make?" That is not how it is done, not any more. Remember we live in an online world where outsourcing is king.

No matter what we make we tend to keep it private. In America salary information is private information.

Adi Kamdar is with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He said, "It tells where you work, it tells what income level, what economic strata you are in. It can reveal a lot of information about you that you don't necessarily want other people to know."

But other people do know. Services like, Verify Job System, uConfirm and The Work Number keep track of your employment and salary then sell that information.

How do they get the information, employers share it with them. When you fill out a loan application, for instance, it is often confirmed, not through your company, but an outsourced service, saving your employer time and money.

"There are a number of data brokers out there and it is unclear who is getting what because it is a system that is kind of hidden from consumers and purposely hidden from consumers," said Kamdar.

These data brokers are not supposed to give out your salary information unless the requester has a right to it, for example or a lender you have approved. But be careful, you could approve it without noticing. Read the fine print on employment applications -- you could be giving a potential employer the right to check your current salary.

It is hard to negotiate pay if your potential employer holds all the cards and that's where this website comes in.

PayScale.com gathers salary information from employees, then puts together a compensation report.

"As an employee the main use of PayScale is to understand your price in the labor market, understand where you are on the income distribution curve for your position," said Katie Bardaro form PayScale.

PayScale.com will give you a free report if you give them the particulars about your current employment.

The other companies like The Work Number and Verify Job System will give you a free report once a year. They have to by law.

So ask your employer if they outsource job and salary verification. If they do ask for the company's name and then ask the company for your free report. That way you'll be able to see if the information is correct and beyond that, who's been checking on your information.

One reason your employer outsources all of this is legal liability. With these services your job performance is never discussed. It's only hard numbers.

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