For a long time now, big companies have the option for a points or reward card that gives you something back for your loyalty. In the UK, supermarkets such as Tesco offer a Clubcard that gives you points on each purchase and access to a number of different vouchers.
What they don’t tell you is what they are doing with the data they process on the things you buy.
Many companies will take that data and build up a demographic profile of what exactly you are buying and use that information to sell things that might appeal to you. This was uncovered in an article found on The Guardian.
When companies buy this data use certain keys, such as your email address to cross reference and find you. When you register to site XYZ or Social Network ABC and you enter your real email address they cross reference and see what you like, what you don’t like, where you shop, what you buy, et cetera. This helps them build a profile on you so they can target their advertising.
Not only do they target advertise to you, they will analyse your spending habits and use that to see just how effective certain promotions and rewards are. If there is a lapse in using a reward card for a while, companies will extrapolate from that information that the benefits aren’t going far enough.
Not only are reward cards affected, your bog-standard Visa or Mastercard is being analysed too. This information is then sold on to analytics companies. These analytics companies are then paid by companies to analyse trends and show where exactly the market is heading in terms of spending.
What is even worse for you however is that this system works two ways, with large companies like banks, insurance companies, lenders, et cetera buying data from websites that you have registered too. That means that view what you may have posted on social networks, or forums to decide on if they should approve you for a loan. There are several cases of people being declined insurance claims over posts they have made on social media.
Whilst this is something that is mentioned in privacy agreements for cards, often many people skip over these walls of text. The legalese makes it hard to understand and simply too much of a time sink to see what exactly companies are making you agree to.
The problem is that many people simply do not know how closely all their habits are tracked. And that the data is being sold to a number of companies to help more aggressively advertise products to a particular demographic.
Whilst this many not be a new practise, the fact it is being done without so much fanfare means that the companies know customers would not be best pleased about their data being sold to the highest bidder.
Using a temp mail is important to keep your identity anonymous and your personal life personal.