Did you realize that your personal information might be less personal than you think when you are shopping, or even when you are simply using your phone?
Alan Crowetz, Internet Security Expert for WPTV was interviewed this week by the TV channel and says that we are probably unaware of 99% of the tracking that is being done.
Where you have been, your personal information etc, are all worth big money to advertisers.
Alan helped WPTV identify the top 5 ways we are being tracked.
#1 Your smartphone – you may not be aware of this but most large stores track the mac address of your smartphone. That number is unique to your device and can be used for a multitude of things.
They don’t know who you are, but they know it ties to your number which they save. That enables them to see how often you return to the same store, if you go to any of their other stores. Alan says there is a wealth of information which a retailer can learn about you without your knowledge.
#2 Wi-Fi – invariably to use a location’s Wi-Fi, there is a terms of agreement page to sign before being granted access to the network. Hardly anyone reads the small print which is frequently buried because they prefer you don’t read it.
This also allows a store to see your browsing history, your phone contacts and more still. That information can be shared with advertisers.
#3 Bluetooth and sharing your location – Alan already mentioned the mac address of your phone – this can be transmitted through your Bluetooth. If not actually using it, it should be turned off.
When sharing your location, you have the option of making it indefinite, meaning they know where you are at all times. Check through the contacts and check if the location service is off for each one.
#4 Email tracking – do not be mistaken, merely checking no on a return receipt box, is not enough to keep you free from tracking.
Alan says many companies are now embedding pinpoint sized pictures in emails which allow the sender to know a) that you’ve read the email and b) whether you have clicked any links in that email.
#5 Retargeting Ads – you may have noticed that following a search for a specific item, you get a pop up ad days later in a webpage you are viewing. That’s because some sites deposit a code in your internet cookies, and this allows them to put ads on websites you browse at a future date.
This form of tracking can help advertise things for which you might actually be looking.
Alan added that much of this is a case of trading your information and your privacy for this help. It’s up to you to decide where on that spectrum you are.