Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests

 

Welcome to Club Thrifty! If you like what you see, please be sure to subscribe to our blog. Also, we’d love for you to join our current giveaways. Enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card here. You can also enter to win an iPad3 by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by, and we hope to see you again soon!

 

Guarding Personal Information from Corporate InterestsIs it me or is everybody trying to pry your personal information from you these days? Don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously not overly paranoid about it. I mean, I do write a personal blog for all the world to see. If you want to know much about me, all you have to do is pull up our website and there it is. However, I’m mildly distrubed by the fact that I can’t go into a store and buy something annonymously anymore. I find it to be a bit unsettling.

It all started out a few years ago when stores started issuing “valued customer” cards. Essentially, you’d use these cards to earn points for free stuff. Then you had grocery stores requiring you to use their card in order to take advantage of their sales for the week. These stores then track your purchases and are able to market to you accordingly.

 

Disney and Your Personal Information

These days, Disney has taken this tactic to a whole new level using computer cookies. Whenever you visit one of their websites, they will ask you a bunch of questions about your different preferences. By doing this, they are able to provide the customer with offers (advertisements) based upon their personal information (like family size and age) and preferences. This is wonderful marketing, and they would tell you that it is great for the customer to be able to receive tailored ads as well. I think it is a little bit creepy for a company the size of Disney to know that much about me. Afterall, don’t giant companies have enough power already?

 

Giving Up our Privacy to Go Christmas Shopping

Here is another example. The other day we went Christmas shopping at our local mall. Our 13 year-old niece asked for a gift card to a trendy clothing store. I don’t want to give this store any free advertising, so let’s just call it “The Snap.”  Anyway, we proceeded to the checkout counter to buy the gift card.

As the cashier was ringing up the gift card, she immediately began to ask us questions regarding our niece’s personal information. On the card, they wanted to keep track of her name, address, telephone number, etc. Of course, we didn’t feel comfortable giving out the information of a 13 year-old girl. When Holly asked why they needed all of that, the cashier stated that it was a convienience. That way, if she lost the card, they could see if it was already spent and could replace it if necessary.

…Riiiiggghhht…I’m sure that is why they were collecting all of her information. They just wanted to protect her $20 gift card…and bombard her with advertising to boot. We declined to give out the information.

After leaving “The Snap,” we entered another clothing store to buy a gift card for our other niece. The clerk scanned the card…and immediately asked us for our phone number. Yeah, no thanks. We just want to buy the card, thank you. I shouldn’t have to give you my phone number just to make a purchase. This time, we weren’t met with much resistance and the transaction was completed. We then left the mall, disgusted that we had come there in the first place.

 

Trading Privacy for Convenience

Have we grown so lazy that we are willing to give up all of our personal information in order to make something as simple as shopping easier? I’m not sure that I want Disney – or any other company, for that matter – to keep my personal information in their database. They reallly don’t need to know how many children I have and what their ages are. I’ve been shopping for over 30 years. I think I can manage to find the products I’m looking for. If not, I’ll ask somebody.

As I’ve already stated, these companies collect this information and frame it as a convience for their customers. They claim that it will help their shopping experience. However, what they are really looking to do is to use it to make more money off of you. I’m not sure why we put up with this. I guess it is par for the course in an age where everybody airs all of their dirty laundry on Facebook and writes about their personal lives on their blog (Gulp!).

 

How Safe is Your Personal Information?

Yet, I am left wondering, how safe is all of this information?  We’ve already handed it all over to these companies. Now, it is basically theirs to do as they wish with it. Why have we decided to forgo privacy in the name of convenience? Personal privacy used to be something that was cherished. Now, it is almost forgotten.

In my opinion, too many people have access to my personal information already. That is one reason that I choose not to use most personal finance apps. While I know that they are great tools for people to help them get out of debt, I feel like there are enough companies that have my personal information already. I certainly don’t need more of them having my bank account numbers.

As far as I’m concerned, these stores can keep their advertisements to themselves. They really don’t need my personal information. I’d rather buy my foaming hand soap annonymously, thank you.

 

Want to be a part of some cool giveaways? Become a VIP Club Insider today!
About Greg

Greg Johnson is a proud husband, father, and debt crusader who is in the process of becoming debt free. He is the co-founder of the personal finance website Club Thrifty, where he brings the awesome sauce each and every day.

Comments

  1. I agree that stores and companies have gone over the edge of “asking for too much.” They want every last bit of information they can gather. Zip code? Phone Number? Email Address? Have you signed up for our credit card? Do you want deals in the mail? Can I have your address?

    It never stops! I don’t see it stopping, either, as companies try to grab as much data as possible to gain an edge over their competitors.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Is Collecting things a Waste of Time and Money?My Profile

  2. I’ll have to tell my brother that he has an unhappy customer (he works for Disney).

    I don’t like thinking about how much information companies have on me. I have enough trouble sleeping already without adding that to the list.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Has Christmas Become too Commercial?My Profile

  3. Great post Greg! I could not agree more. It drives me nuts when I go to the store and they ask for all of my crap. I just politely say I am not giving it out while biting my tongue. The thing is, if you pay by credit card they can get a lot of that info anyway with just a little bit of work.

    Working in the advertising field, I know exactly why companies do it but I still think it sucks. Why should I have to be concerned about them bombarding my email with their junk…I get too much of it as it is.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..A Frugal Person’s View on Holiday TippingMy Profile

  4. I remember when radio shack was the only store that did this, anyone remember the whole “I have to give my phone number to buy batteries.” issue?
    Now it’s so common place that it’s almost bizarre not to be bombarded by 100 questions.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Finding Your Path To Financial IndependenceMy Profile

  5. Nice post.
    I agree that in the sense that certain companies go overboard by asking for personal info. It drives me nuts when I’m asked for my postal code, or I have to fill out my phone # to return an item. Seriously?
    Eddie recently posted..Responsible Holiday Party HostingMy Profile

  6. I find it amusing how much personal information people will voluntarily give to a company. The best example of this is FACEBOOK. They know more about you, than you do, yet people just freely throw that information about themselves out there… When you think about it, giving your zip code or phone number to a store doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

  7. Online coupon printing used to be pretty easy, now it seems more and more sites want you to register your personal information in order to be presented the printable coupon. My personal information is worth a little more than a dollar off three cans of soup.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Get Your Rental Deposit Back After You Move OutMy Profile

    • lol, I totally agree. Plus your time is more valuable than the ten minutes it will take to set up and account with a username and password that you may never remember anyway!

  8. This is the business model and it is only going to get more pronounced in the future.. Companies everywhere are tracking all of your spending habits, and even your browsing habits. I know that target prints off targeted coupons based on past purchases, and amazon automatically signs you up for newsletters based on what you *browse* through on their site.
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Five Ways to Drastically Improve Your Cash Flow TodayMy Profile

  9. As a marketer, I know how valuable this information is to any company. We strive to collect it and can do amazing targeting with it. One the consumer side, I had people asking for my information. I provide an old phone number, an email address just created for spam, and I don’t give out my address (even though it is not hard to find). There are not many ways to live off the grid these days, but if a company needs a little information to provide me with a discount, then I will provide it to them.

    There are some companies that go to far and I have problems with those, especially ones that sell your information as soon as they get it.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Free Shipping Day Is December 17My Profile

  10. It’s nuts- it’s ridiculous you are constantly being asked for your email (and ended up on some list) or postal code, or phone number..sigh..
    cat recently posted..Cheaper to make from scratch or buy from the store?My Profile

  11. I hate giving out any info at stores. I’m immeadiately suspicious. Why do they need our personal information? It’s crazy…
    Mackenzie recently posted..Dear Santa…My Profile

  12. Usually companies reward you for the information with advance notice of sales or special discounts. For some shoppers this may be enough. I am concerned about the safety of the information because in many cases, they have credit card numbers etc.
    krantcents recently posted..Is College Worth It?My Profile

  13. I get so annoyed by everyone always asking for my name, for my membership card, etc etc. When they ask for my phone number it really annoys me because I wonder if they are going to be selling it to some annoying telemarketing company I’ll have to deal with forever.
    Gillian @ Money After Graduation recently posted..How to make the most of LinkedInMy Profile

  14. Another thing that concerns me is that we all have so many passwords to different sites (which undoubtedly are the same in many cases) If one site gets hacked or leaked then we are exposed majorly…
    Savvy Scot recently posted..SALLTYE – Spend A Lot Less Than You EarnMy Profile

  15. I get sick of saying “no” to the phone number snatchers at local retailers. I mean really, who calls people on the phone anymore, anyways! I guess they could “text” advertise, but still, it’s jacked. I don’t mind using legit budget apps, but I try to limit th number of companies that have full access.

    And Greg, I have to say, I could see you being well-prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse or Armageddon, lol! You don’t trust anyone, and probably have a gun rack in your car, huh? ;)
    Jacob @ iheartbudgets recently posted..What Does $1 Mean To You?My Profile

    • That is a good point about the phone numbers. I don’t even answer my phone anymore. I just wait until the call goes through and text, “Did you need something?”

  16. I remember when stores first stated this technique with zip codes, and then went on to emails. Now they are asking for everything under the sun. I agree it is annoying, especially when you start getting spammed in your email. (Unfortunately, I was too much of an imbecile in the beginning and gave out my email too many times)
    Jason Clayton | frugal habits recently posted..50 Side Business Ideas – You Can Start TodayMy Profile

    • I also think it depends on how they ask. There is a big difference between:

      “What’s your email?” and
      “Would you like to give out your email?” I don’t like it when they act like I owe it to them.

  17. But if you buy the foamy hand soap anonymously, how can they know which one you bought the next time you go in the store and can’t remember?

    Come to the dark side, Greg. It’s not so bad in corporate marketing land….
    AverageJoe recently posted..The Worst Gifts Ever: Crystal Frogs, Re-gifted Candy and More Bad Holiday “Fun”My Profile

  18. I’m lazy and just givea fake number so I don’t have to listen to the spiel.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..What Will the Fiscal Cliff Mean to Health Care?My Profile

  19. Or what about Google’s targeted ads? My friend sent me a picture of a bridesmaid dress that followed me around the internet for months!
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..Did I save half my income?My Profile

  20. Giving out a phone number is probably small potatoes compared to the elaborate databases and profiling our credit card companies have built on us based off of all of our purchases through the years. This is why I never will agree with a completely cashless society. Or what about our Google accounts, Googs has had years to compile our searches and analyze/profile accordingly. Gulp.

    • Yeah, I use credit cards only and my credit card companies could literally track everywhere I’ve been and what I’ve bought. It’s a scary thought!

  21. I would love to offer random the cashier random information like that I have a preference to buy purple underwear and that I don’t really care for sausage just to see the cashiers reaction
    Mandy @MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Do you dare to dream?My Profile

  22. I moved, and in the process switched to a PO Box. I tell people that I don’t give out my address or phone number.

    It is VERY easy to find info on people, especially if the entity that wants the info is a company that can pay for things like data aggregation services. There are so many potential customers out there that the interest is more in parsing datapoints than anything, but. . .yeah, we don’t have much of a private life anymore. And in cases of people who post TMI on sites like Facebook, they either don’t care or the don’t make the connection.

    Though if I posted my dirty laundry on my blog, it would be boring. I’d have to make stuff up to get people to want to read about my dirty laundry!
    Pamela recently posted..Before taking all of the personal finance advice out there, consider the issuesMy Profile

    • It is super easy to find info on people. And you’re right about Facebook. What’s up with people constantly “checking in” everywhere they are going?

  23. This has really taken off the last few years. I can’t keep track of how often I have been asked questions like this. What bothers me the most is that even when I don’t give out that information, they sometimes still find a way to get it. It’s like the privacy laws don’t exist.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..How To Throw A Lavish Holiday Party On A Tight BudgetMy Profile

  24. I think some people make too big a deal of some privacy issues. If you own property, your address is list in the public tax roll. If you have a business, you list your phone number and email address on your marketing materials. And then you have phone directories which publish the same info and have been around for decades. Simply contacting someone isn’t invading their privacy. Asking questions to make their shopping experiences more beneficial isn’t the end of the world either in my view.

    Maybe younger folks don’t remember, but there was a time when the Do Not Call registry and Opt-Out Prescreen didn’t exist and marketers would send out tons of solicitations daily. And when they started asking for info at the store checkout lines, or solicitors call the office I simply say “no, when I want something I’ll look for it–I don’t need anyone suggesting it to me”. Online-wise, if you are “friends” with people on Facebook that you don’t trust and feel insecure posting certain things, then you have other issues to deal with. I only accept friends who I actually know, and for business I have separate pages so anyone I kinda-sorta know online can connect with me there if needed.

    Maybe it’s just the old part of me coming out, who knows?
    Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity recently posted..Derek Jeter Teaches You To Be A Success In Any CareerMy Profile

    • I don’t know. Maybe it depends on the person. We were pretty disturbed when the store started asking mailing information for a 13 year old girl. I am definitely not okay with that. But, to each their own.

  25. I’m not a huge fan of giving up any personal info either. It’s way to easy for someone to steal you’re identity and do things like open up a new credit card with. On top of that consider the possibility of a security breach. A lot of companies from Linked In to eHarmony have been hit. For I would do exactly what you did, Opt Out.
    Chris @ Stumble Forward recently posted..7 Christmas Scams And Mistakes You’ll Want To Avoid This YearMy Profile

    • I am terrified of some big company getting hacked and someone stealing my identity. Speaking of that, I need to do my annual credit report before the end of the year!

  26. I think there was a comment I saw about Facebook. They know how to market. Many times I decline giving out my personal information. There’s no need for them to have to much of my information. And the salesperson is just repeating what they are told.
    Ornella @ Moneylicious recently posted..Bankruptcy FAQsMy Profile

  27. Matthew Allen says:

    If my wits are working that day, I like to have a little fun with it and give out fake information. More often than not, I am caught off guard though. Plus, paying with a debit card with my name on it makes that a little challenging.

    I once was denied a pay at the pump transaction because I entered in a fake zip code. Turns out, that was a verification step to make sure I was the owner of the card.

  28. I’ve started to notice that alot at the grocery stores and other shops wanting my name, postal code etc. You are right what happened to give my stuff, here’s your money and mind your own business, gone! Technology, the internet etc has taken over the world. Sometimes I think back to the good old days when life was simple but then would we really give up all these conveniences of communication etc? We bought a gc at the mall yesterday as well but she never asked me for info and if she did I’d tell her to get bent… but in a nice way :-)
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Winter Vehicle Maintenance… Costing You Less In The Long RunMy Profile

  29. Oh man I’m with you guys 100%, I don’t want to even think about who knows what about me, it’s scary! I recently started receiving a catalog to a store I have never, in my life, shopped in-which scares the bejesus out of me because it means another store has sold my information.
    Catherine recently posted..Fun and Frugal Dinner PartiesMy Profile

  30. You’re right, the reason we do is it’s convenient. But I often wonder about that sort of thing because I’m sure if someone really wanted to, they could access my information. Heck I debate about that with just saying stuff on facebook. I wonder how it might come back and haunt me at some point. I’ve made a point of scaling back a bit.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Looking Back, Looking Forward: Part 1My Profile

    • Me too! Especially about facebook. We have a serious rule around here regarding drinking and facebooking. When the alcohol comes out, the computer goes OFF! I am so worried about saying something stupid…or worse yet…something like this:

      afdhsahweewkj ksweeeeeeeeeeeee

  31. I totally agree. While I’m not overly concerned with what will happen with my information it’s a major pain in the a$$ to not be able to buy something from a store these days without them trying to get as much data as possible out of you.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..How To Save $700 By Switching To A Prepaid SmartphoneMy Profile

  32. This is so true. I have a bit more sinister story along those lines: My sister was pregnant and bought some maternity clothing at a local chain store. She gave out her information when they requested it, thinking nothing of it. A few months later, when she was closer to her due date, she got an unsolicited package in the mail from a milk formula company. The package contained free samples of the product, coupons, and most importantly: deceptive information about the benefits of formula versus breast feeding. I took a look at the information myself and there were definitely lies in it. She couldn’t figure out how this company got a hold of her information until I pointed out that the maternity store had likely sold her mailing address to this formula company.
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Getting the Most Out of My BudgetMy Profile

  33. Lena @ WhatMommyDoes says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My personal pet peeve is when a cashier gets huffy when I refuse to give my email address! I’m sorry, but I already get too many emails as it is!

    Another troubling trend…have you seen all the permissions companies request through Facebook apps these days? It’s truly amazing.
    Lena @ WhatMommyDoes recently posted..What is a Pantry or Fridge Challenge?My Profile

  34. I whole heartedly agree with you. Some companies even go one step further and lift information off of you without your knowledge or consent. One such company (rhymes with Shmome Shmepo) keeps your credit card information on file the moment you pay for a purchase with your card. There’s no waiver, no permissions, no verbalizing it to a cashier, nothing. You swipe it at the till and they save it. I was livid when I found that out, because they already had my information before I found out.
    Cassie recently posted..52 CardsMy Profile

  35. I’ve started carrying cash and not using my debit/credit card. When they ask for information, I make up whole fake identities: names, phone, etc. Let them figure THAT out!
    Rod J. Rogers (@FreeAgentRogers) recently posted..Gina Used Office Cleaning to Put Her Daughter Through College -DEBT FREEMy Profile

  36. Actually, I think the horse has long ago left the barn. Not much is genuinely secret any more.
    Thad recently posted..How to Use Evernote PeekMy Profile

  37. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. “You’ve been chosen to take a survey” GO AWAY! :)
    mbhunter recently posted..Save money when you cut the cheeseMy Profile

  38. I remember there used to be this clothing store I went to as a teenager and they’d always require some personal info to buy something. At the time I didn’t question it but now I wonder if they still have that info. Creepy!
    Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses recently posted..Happy One Year Blogiversary to Me!My Profile

  39. To protect a gift card? Hmmmm…..good call on your part.

    I’ve thought the same thing; in the past five years, I’ve had to get a shopper’s card at every freaking store if I want to get their sales. Which means I give them my name. Address. Phone number. Email. Sometimes more. I’m sick of it.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Linguaphile Library Love: Free On-Line Language LearningMy Profile

  40. John Cullos says:

    Big brother is watching us!! We are all being profiled!! All of the personal info that businesses collect is probably stored in some master database which can be viewed by our government or any other rich corporation. All of that unhealthy food that you purchased through credit cards or store loyalty cards can be traced back to you and health insurance companies can use that as excuse to raise your insurance rates or to even refuse coverage if they deem you to be a risk. I have no credit cards and i am not on Facebook. If i can’t afford it, i won’t buy it. Cash omly for me.

  41. Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals says:

    This is especially horrible, since I work in market research on the side, but at the times when I DO give personal information… it’s totally fictional. THere’s no reason why all these stores/sites/companies need to know anything – let alone *everything* – about me!

  42. I get really upset when the sales associate “smugly” acts like it’s “required” for you to provide that. They “just ask like it’s a normal thing to do and you are required to provide it.” I always ask why they need it. When they give me their bogus answer, I say “WRONG ANSWER! Now tell me the real reason!” For which I get a blank look, and I smugly “inform” them of the “Real” reason, and a lecture that I am under no legal obligation to provide it and they should be conscious of that and stop acting like it’s “required.”

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests by Club Thrifty.  First off, we have Club Thrifty asking the question whether stores are asking for to much personal information.  I personally don’t like to give out to much info just for the mere fact that I don’t want it to  fall in the wrong hands. [...]

  2. [...] Club Thrifty: Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests  [...]

  3. [...] Guarding Your Personal Information From Corporate Interests on Club Thrifty [...]

  4. [...] Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests brought to you by Club Thrifty [...]

  5. [...] Thrifty – Greg talks about the importance of guarding your personal information from corporate interests, because it seems everybody is trying to pry your personal information from you these [...]

  6. [...] Grey at Club Thrifty talks about guarding personal information from corporate interests. [...]

  7. [...] Guarding Your Personal Information From Corporate Interests -Club Thrifty [...]

  8. [...] Club Thrifty – Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests [...]

  9. [...] The following blogs mentioned our article “Guarding Your Personal Information from Corporate Interests“: [...]

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge