Is your Information “For Sale?”

remax-for-sale-sign-soldEveryone knows that when they sign up for a shopper loyalty card, a store credit card, a credit card with frequent flier miles, etc., they are also giving up their personal shopping habits to the corporations that administer them. But how much information is being collected? Do people actually care that they are leaving the door to their life wide open? Does this deter people from applying for multiple cards? NOPE.

Let’s look at shopper loyalty cards, for instance. Rite Aid, a popular drug store, has a card called the Plenti Card. This card is shown (or you give your phone number if you’re like me and don’t feel like looking for it in your wallet) every time you make a purchase, and you accrue points or are given a discount on items that you’ve purchased. You pay for your items, and then the register prints out a receipt, along with 3 more coupons for your next visit. These coupons are generated based on your previous purchases (which is terribly embarrassing if you share a card with your brother, his wife and your mother. 9 out of 10 times, my coupons are for Women’s Multi-Vitamins or Lady Schick razors. I also receive emails weekly from Rite Aid with my “personalized shopping list” which has an awkward number of recommendations for Febreeze and Glade products.

Next, we’ve got store cards. I have a weird obsession with the BonTon and spend more money on things there than I should. Naturally, I got their credit card so I could save 10% on purchases. This store card is for use only at BonTon, so the only information they get (beyond my social security number, income, credit score, mother’s maiden name, address, phone number, employer’s name, number and address) is what I buy at their store. This is relatively harmless, as I can ignore emails and throw away mailings encouraging me to “spend $100 to save $50” with my VIP coupon, which I always do. And then I get roped in again when my receipt has a “save $10 on $25” coupon attached. Otherwise, harmless.

Store credit cards that can be used anywhere hold the most information about our shopping habits. When you initially sign up for one of these credit cards, it’s usually with the intention of using the card once, paying it off, and cancelling it. In reality, you use it to pay your credit bard, internet bill, electricity, water and car insurance. Now, the credit card company knows where you shop, when you shop, how much you spend of electricity, water, gas, what kind of car you drive, where you eat out for lunch, how often you buy booze, how much gas your car holds, what porn sites you visit….the list goes on. What information are you putting out there?

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