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Friday, July 19, 2013

Don't want to be tracked in the Department store - turn off your Smartphone

Reported by Yahoo! Shine:  When you visit websites or when you click over to an online store, most of them will monitor where you are located, what you're clicking on throughout the site, how much time you're spending there, and what you ultimately purchase. Based on that information, the site may automatically generate ads for similar items you'd be interested in purchasing, or email you product information based on your interests. This is done partly for your convenience, but also, of course, so stores can make more money.

When you visit retail stores. Security camera footage is overlaid with analytics tracking the number of customers entering the store each day, as well the number of purchases made. The same cameras used to deter theft are now being used to track where you are spending time in the store. GPS and WiFi signals are used in a similar way to inform retailers about your location in the stores, but the accuracy levels are somewhat limited based on the signals to your device. Though not everyone has a smartphone.

What you can do to get off stores' radar, in person and online:

Turn off your GPS and WiFi. If you don't want stores to track your activities, you should also disable all social media apps like Instagram and FourSquare from sharing your location.

Whenever possible, pay with cash. If you make a purchase with a credit card, you link your name and location to an itemized list of everything you've purchased. Paying with bills means your itemized purchases can't be tied to your name.

Don't register on websites, and use guest checkout. If you're not logged in, retailers can't necessarily match your activity on their site with your name. The less information a website keeps on file (credit card numbers, billing addresses, and so on), the better it is for your privacy. If you must use this data to make a purchase, you can always unsubscribe or delete it after the fact, but some companies do store some of this information.

Clear your cookies. Cookies leave a little footprint on every website you visit, providing personalized data that's easy to access. Try clearing your cookies from your computer frequently. It may mean having to re-enter forms, but it's better than storing this data online indefinitely.

Don't answer surveys or warranty cards. These are other ways stores can keep tabs on your purchasing habits.

Be cautious of your activities on platforms like Facebook and Google. "Google saves every bit of information it collects about you — your usage of it, your email sent through it, where you visit — and it's just sitting on their servers, waiting to be hacked or subpoenaed by the government," says Amadeo. "[Google] can sell information about you to advertisers and collects even more information if you use Chrome, Gmail, Google calendar..." Amadeo warns that Facebook also uses all the information you put on its site (your favorite movies or your new engagement ring photo, for example) to sell to advertisers. Even if your account is private, this data is public property and will potentially exist somewhere on the web forever.