Coupons Steal your Info?

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There was an article out from the N.Y.Times called Web Coupons Know Lots About You,and They Tell. Here is a small excerpt from the article:

A new breed of coupon,  printed from the Internet or sent to mobile phones, is packed with information about the customer who uses it. While the coupons look standard, their bar codes can be loaded with a startling amount of data, including identification about the customer, Internet address, Facebook page information and even the search terms the customer used to find the coupon in the first place.

And all that information follows that customer into the mall. For example, if a man walks into a Filene's Basement to buy a suit for his wedding and shows a coupon he retrieved online, the company's marketing agency can figure out whether he used the search terms “Hugo Boss suit” or “discount wedding clothes” to research his purchase (just don’t tell his fiancée).

And this has some privacy advocates up in arms, because companies know things about you: The N.Y. Times also mentions a company called RevTrax.

While companies once had a slim dossier on each consumer, they now have databases packed with information. And every time a person goes shopping, visits a Web site or buys something, the database gets another entry. Unless you are paying cash for everything then you are pretty much giving your info some way or another.
RevTrax can identify online shoppers when they are signed in to a coupon site like Ebates or FatWallet or the retailer’s own site. It says it avoids connecting that number with real people to steer clear of privacy issues, but clients can make that match.

The retailer can also make that connection when it is offering coupons to its Facebook fans, like Filene's Basement is doing.

“When someone joins a fan club, the user’s Facebook ID becomes visible to the merchandiser,” Jonathan Treiber, RevTrax’s co-founder, said. “We take that and embed it in a bar code or promotion code.”

“When the consumer redeems the offer in store, we can track it back, in this case, not to the Google search term but to the actual Facebook user ID that was signing up,” he said. Although Facebook does not signal that Amy Smith responded to a given ad, Filene’s could look up the user ID connected to the coupon and “do some more manual-type research — you could easily see your sex, your location and what you’re interested in,” Mr. Treiber said. (Mr. O’Neil said Filene’s did not do this at the moment.)

The coupon efforts are nascent, but coupon companies say that when they get more data about how people are responding, they can make different offers to different consumers

My Thoughts:

OK as long as they are not getting my SS#, DL# and in depth personal information then I don't Care. If it's just my name, address, and tracking how I found a coupon or what I bought then that's just fine.If you use a credit card, store loyalty card or buy online you can get the same information.Most of the time to get a coupon you have to fill out at least your name,address,phone number and birth date. Sometimes they will even ask you a few survey questions about things you buy. So up front you know or not weather you are giving that info. On the other hand. I think some disclosure needs to be put on these Facebook coupons. My 13 Year old daughter has her own facebook and she may not understand that clicking the like button might give some of her info to someone. As a parent it is my job to educate my kids about this but just think how many parents out there don't? I think for Safety reason there should be a disclosure and this might just calm everyone down.

I asked a rep at Coupons Inc and they had not even heard of all the talk going on. Coupons Inc says they never sell your info. Only the manufacturer who is doing the promo/coupon gets the info that you fill out and this is only on Duet offers which means offers that you yourself fill out your info to get the coupons. Other than that we don't have that info. I also heard that RevTrax also may have an affilliate program? I also spoke to Jim from Rubbermaid and he hadn't heard about what was going on. (by the way I love Jim, anytime he heres about something going on he emails me, this is one company that always wants to make sure they doing whats best for the consumer). He said they don't even ask for information from consumers before they print coupons because he wouldn't know what to do with it if he did.You just simply click to print. In conclusion I guess as long as they are not deceitful about it and let people know, people will be more open about this? What are your thoughts? Would a simple (I Agree)check this box button be suffcient enough? You tell me. I am sure we will get lots of different opinions on this subject as privacy issues are different for everyone.

So who are the ones really upset. Those Fanatic Coupon users or those who are freaks about doing ANYTHING online. That is what I want to find out.So I got on Twitter and I asked all my twitter Friends what they thought about all of this and here are some of the responses that I got.

Stephanie Hansen sahans @ConsumerQueen I need to do some research on that… because it sounds a little scary.

Stephanie Hansen sahans @ConsumerQueen That's true. I guess I am a little worried about the address part but it is just a coupon company.

Stephanie Hansen sahans @ConsumerQueen That is true. I guess my knee jerk reaction is “NOT MY ADDRESS!!!” but logically they likely already have it. LOL

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueen So, I see where they are an affiliate program, am I right?

saving4someday saving4someday @GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueenI think the idea of RevTrax is good but lack of disclosure gets me. Good article here

saving4someday saving4someday @GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueen I could go all lawyer on this b/c of the privacy rights issue.

saving4someday saving4someday @ConsumerQueen It's one thing to give your name/email willingly but I don't need them knowing my every move.

saving4someday saving4someday @ConsumerQueen One of my serious concerns is the collection of information on minors. As a mom, that is NOT cool.

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @saving4someday @ConsumerQueen I can see the merchants view, though, too.

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueen @saving4someday They can offer consumer's more specific coupons, to me it benefits both.

saving4someday saving4someday @ConsumerQueen a 13-yr old FB user is not savvy enough to know that clicking LIKE on FB could allow access to their info. That's unethical.

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @saving4someday @ConsumerQueen Maybe I should be more concerned about my privacy, but, I'm really not hiding anything – I shop in public..

saving4someday saving4someday @ConsumerQueen @GroceryShopFREE Oh, I see the HUGE upside for retailers and brands. I can support their position as well.

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @saving4someday @ConsumerQueen For me as a consumer I would rather have more specific offers to me, than to wade through offers I won't use

saving4someday saving4someday @GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueen I think many people understand giving up some level of privacy when online, but it's what they do w/info

saving4someday saving4someday @GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueen I'm not certain that all brands/retailers understand the implications of the data collected.

Grocery Shop FREE GroceryShopFREE @saving4someday @ConsumerQueen So, maybe I'm missing the point. What ELSE, do they do with the info besides targeting my offers?

saving4someday saving4someday @GroceryShopFREE @ConsumerQueenTargeted couponing is a Win/Win. Better redemption, lower cost for programs could mean high savings for us

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One Comment

  1. Yeah, as long as they're not getting to more pertinent information, I don't particularly care either. And it sounds like it isn't very widespread.

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