If it hasn’t already been made clear to you from the NSA spying or targeted ads across sites; data about you is everywhere! A long time ago, companies figured out that if they collect your information, others will pay for it. As paying companies use your personal data, more trends develop around you that the collecting company uses. This cycle continues on and on until they know that you only order a black venti coffee from Starbucks on the corner of Main St and East St every Tuesday morning while reading the latest blog post from TKGenius.
Recently, one of these data collecting companies cracked the door open a tiny bit to give you a glimpse into what they know about you. Acxiom (that’s ok, I never heard of this company either) launched aboutthedata.com, which provides marketing information that anyone can freely review and edit.
Notice the nice little twist? They now have you baited into correcting any inaccurate data about you for free. No one will pay for bad data. But if you, the source, corrects it for them it just means more money in their bank accounts and more targeted ads, emails, and phone calls from marketers for you.
I wanted to see for myself what data the site could have about me, so I visited aboutthedata.com, filled out some general information, plus the last 4 of your SSN and I was in. (As a sidenote: It bothers me that this company already has the last 4 of my social without my knowledge. If their data is ever compromised it is an easy door into identity theft).
The site correctly displayed my address, DOB, age, gender, education, marital status, and occupation. Pretty standard stuff that you fill out on web forms all the time and don’t think twice about has now ended up starting your profile. This is where it gets interesting.
From the address, they know I’m a home owner who has lived in my home for 9 years. My home was built in the 1961-1970 range, with a lot size of 10,000-15,000 sq ft. Next they show me the type of primary loan, type of interest rate, and estimated available equity. All very good stuff for window replacement companies, or those wanting me to refinance.
You may say that is all obtainable information through public records, and you’re correct. The key is that this company has done the leg work of going through those records and matching up more information about you across all of their sources.
For example, this site knows I own two Oldsmobile automobiles and that my insurance renews in March. Their site is showing I have intent to purchase a vehicle, which is also true. They have categorized my families spending on things such as Women’s Apparel, or Magazines. Acxiom is able to tell their buyers that my most frequent retail purchase category is “Standard Retail” vs specialized shopping and that my average OFFLINE purchase is $40.00. That’s correct- Offline. My Online average is a bit higher at $55.00
Finally, my family’s interests are nicely laid out for me to review. Parenting, technology, cooking, crafts, reading, and many others are all there so that marketers can target their ads to what appeals to my household.
Protecting your data to the best of your ability is crucial in this day and age. Will you be visiting aboutthedata.com to see for yourself how much information is available about you?