The lists Blumenthal finds might as well be labeled “marks” or “scam these people!” (emphasis mine):

NextMark Inc. of Hanover, N.H., offers an online database of mailing lists, and a quick search yielded dozens of mailing lists of sweepstakes players, including the “Lucky Sweeps and Lottery Players” list, described as “an ideal audience for business opportunity, subprime credit offers, online betting services, travel and more!” and the “Consumer Centric Sweepstakes Players,” another list of players who “are very responsive and thrive on winning.”

Want to get more outraged?

Other lists offered names, addresses and other data on “Wealthy Widows who Donate” and “Suffering Seniors” who have maladies such as Alzheimer’s and are described as “perfect prospects” for holistic remedies, financial services, subscriptions and insurance.

Unreal. Add marketing lists to the long list of areas that should get more attention from the press—and from Congress. Who’s regulating these guys who have such troves of private information about us?

Blumenthal points out that at least Obama’s regulation remix is supposed to crack down on things like “overdraft protection.” We’ll see about that.

In the meantime, we need more personal-finance pieces like this.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at