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.
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.
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.
We all need a credit or debit card nowadays, so many people have simply no choice but to agree to these tracking policies.
The problem is that many people simply do not know how closely their spending 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.