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Breaking News

6 Hunstein Cases Dismissed: TransUnion Casts Significant Doubt on Viability…

Steel Rose

"the Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion casts significant doubt on the continued viability of Hunstein," according to the Judge Gary Brown, United States District Judge for the EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. The Memorandum and Order of the District Court also declares: "First, in TransUnion, the Supreme Court held that the...

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The Bottom Line

Product Spotlight

CSS Product Spotlight

Henry Gardner

CSS, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise class accounts receivable management and financial software offers a broad portfolio of platforms & solutions. CSS enables companies to transition their legacy revenue & payment management systems to a modern, cognitive, centralized, cloud-based Financial Ecosystem®. CSS may be utilized to provide business financial...

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Skip Tracing Advisor

Developing a Network of Closed Sources by Ron Brown, Skip Tr…

Ron Brown

As we begin this article it is very important that the professional tracer clearly understand what constitutes a “CLOSED SOURCE”, the value of a closed source network and the obligation due to each closed source. Definition: CLOSED SOURCE… sources of information with restricted access and information available only through mutual information...

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Collection Software Roundtables

Shielding Collectors From TCPA and FDCPA Violations

Joshua Fluegel

The demands of regulators lead collection professionals to collect debt with the credo of “as little contact with the consumer as possible.” Every eliminated encounter with a consumer while the payment is still being collected is one less chance for a TCPA or FDCPA violation. For this reason many accounts...

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Feature Stories

Hunstein on Rehearing – Revisiting Article III Standing in t…

Eve Cann and Jonathan Green

On April 21, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Richard Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., and potentially created a new claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – ruling that a debt collector's sharing of information with a vendor is a violation...

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Collection Agency Advisor

The Secret to Excelling in Profit AND Performance

Gordon C. Beck III

To each their own. That’s what I keep telling myself when discussing with my competitors what their strategy is to run and operate a successful collection agency. Everyone’s outlook is different, but the same. Sure, everyone wants to be a top agency, that’s what everyone is supposed to say. But...

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Legal Collection Advisor

Executive Orders Impacting Collections

Michael Starzec

No, this is not a review of the 1996 thriller starring Kurt Russell, Halle Berry and Steven Seagal but it does focus on the prestige of the word “Executive.”   At hotels and sports arenas, you want the executive suite. In Illinois, at least a 1,000 corporations integrate “executive” into their...

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Collection Industry Advisor

3 Options to Offer During Tax Season

Nick Jarman

When it comes to collecting debt, tax season is without argument the most profitable season of the year. Tax season starts at the beginning of February and wraps up in early May. February generally sees the highest return and slightly tapers off each month thereafter. One issue that can ease...

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Compliance Advisor

PCI Compliance, SOC, and HITRUST

Debra J. Ciskey

With the June, 2019, disclosure of a data breach at AMCA looming large in the rearview mirror, debt collectors both large and small are scrambling to verify the security of their consumer portals and their consumer information in general. With numerous vendors and auditors serving the industry in this key...

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When is License Plate Recognition Illegal?

  • Written by Ron Brown

mug brownIn the last issue we looked at the history and development of license plate recognition (LPR), currently considered by many as a cutting-edge tool for cyber-tracking. We looked at how it originated and the companies who pioneered it in the United States. We saw how the original design application was intended for use by law enforcement but quickly spread and migrated to the asset recovery industry and finally, how this form of cyber tracking has changed the modus operandi of the automobile repossession industry.

With this new technology there are issues and concerns with the primary issue being that of privacy.

What License Plate Recognition Isn’t

Many people, upon learning of this new technique of electronic surveillance began to develop the “big brother is watching syndrome” while others felt as if they were being stalked and their movements tracked. Many felt that the use of LPR was an invasion of their privacy.

If we address these issues, we can discount stalking as per definition a person is not being followed, given chase, run after or placed under a surveillance. LPR does not meet the test.

If we look at the issue of tracking, I would have to say maybe. LPR captures point-in-time data on a vehicle. If a vehicle is spotted at different locations at varying times of day or night and a pattern is established then I would definitely feel the person, or at least the vehicle, had been tracked.

Finally, is the use of LPR an invasion of a person’s privacy? It has been stated by a major LPR entity that, “LPR doesn’t know who you are; it is anonymous data. A string of numbers and letters with a date, time, and location – That is all.”

Anonymous Identification?

Why is the LPR data considered anonymous data and is your privacy protected from this realtime technology?

Because of the protections put in place by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, the inability to connect license plate numbers to protected personal information held at DMVs without an expressed permissible purpose means that license plate numbers (whether obtained by writing them down or by taking pictures manually or automatically with automatic license plate reader/recognition cameras) are anonymous data.

Predicting a Consumer’s Activity

Is LPR data being used to record Americans’ movements and thus trace a person’s past movements?

LPR can be used to see where you work, where you live, what social functions you might attend, where you go to church, when and where you go to eat and drink and where you shop. This data can be used to determine your habits and patterns and therefore be predictive.

Two things the tracer should note. First, LPR technology does not know who is driving or who is in a vehicle. Second, LPR does not continuously trace all movements. LPR is not a continuous surveillance tool like GPS technology. LPR technology only takes snapshots of a license plate (and the attached car) and notes the location, time, and date if a plate happens to be within view of a camera.

This is very different from GPS tracking technology, which is capable of tracing a vehicle’s movements over time with high precision and involves physical trespass upon private property (a vehicle) in order to place a tracker. Because of these unique features of GPS technology, in 2012 the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones determined that GPS tracking constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and should be subject to a warrant requirement.

LPR technology is a fascinating and helpful tool for the professional tracer if used in a legal manner. Next issue we will address whether or not LPR technology can be defeated, sending the tracer on a false trail?


Ron Brown is a member of the National Association of Fraud Investigators and the author of “MANHUNT: The Book.” Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..