Anytime you use your mobile phone or log on to your computer.. you are giving away tons of personal information. In fact, retailers and marketers are gathering more data about you than you can imagine. When you go online marketers and retailers are tracking you, your email, what you like on Facebook and especially when and where you're spending money.
"All of those things are looked at and put into a digital profile of you as a consumer." said Robert Hooker, University of South Florida marketing professor.
If you go to your Target, then download its app to get a coupon, retailers and marketers just got all kinds of information about you. But, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Hooker says, "They want all of that shopping information, all that demand information so they can provide the best possible product to the right consumers."
And the more we look for the best deal, the more information we are giving away. The first place you'll notice this type of tracking: Facebook. "Don't be surprised if you log on to Facebook later and you're seeing advertisements for things that you've purchased because they're pulling, they're looking at your interests." said Hooker.
That may seem harmless, but think about the locator on your cell phone, the same one you use to get directions allows marketers to track you. "They're collecting all kinds of information that they may not even have a use for yet, but they'll figure it out."
Freaked out now? The good news: there are ways to protect yourself, but you'll have to sacrifice convenience and coupons:
-- First, stop giving out your contact information to anyone who asks for it. Sri Sridharan, with the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, explains why. "Because once you provide them that information you provide them the right to use it for marketing purposes."
-- Second, read the fine print and know exactly what your mobile provider is doing with your information. "It'll say that we reserve the right to sell aggregated marketing information." said Sridharan.
-- Third, clear your Internet history regularly on your phone and home computer. "Don't leave it on there because that can be accessed, too," said Sridharan.
-- Fourth, use ad blocking on your phone. You should be able to find that in your settings under privacy.
Finally, Sridharan advises that you turn off your phone locator, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you're not using them. "People are lazy not to do that, they leave Wi-Fi on, they leave Bluetooth on, they leave GPS on and then they complain about being tracked."
There's no way to completely stop the flow of information, but you can be smarter about when and how you're giving it away.