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Security & Privacy

See the secret consumer score companies are using to judge you

All U.S. citizens have a score that’s used to calculate whether or not they qualify for loans, discounts, subsidies and more. Most of the time this score is hidden from view, but you can access it if you know the right companies to contact. For a similar example, click or tap here to learn how to get in touch with credit reporting agencies.

Wait, you thought we were talking about credit agencies? Not at all.

Despite being mostly unknown to the public, new regulations are forcing company data harvesting to the surface for everyone to see. Do you want to know what these companies know about you, as well as how you can obtain your secret consumer score? We’ve got you covered.

Are you a good enough consumer for these corporations?

According to a groundbreaking exposé from the New York Times, a number of secretive companies have been compiling detailed records of consumer habits to build scores that assess your value and trustworthiness. These scores are then sold to companies across a wide spectrum of industries to aid with credit approvals, product returns, marketing and more.

 

Related: You have a public Amazon.com profile page that others can see.

 

One of the companies cited by the NYT report, Sift, builds your profile by acquiring the aggregated data pumped out by apps and social media platforms. These include Airbnb, Yelp, Coinbase, OkCupid and, of course, Facebook.

The data collected by these entities is wide-ranging, and features mundane items like food orders and purchase histories, as well as obscure items like how often you make returns to certain retailers.

For years, these companies mostly kept this data under wraps — but all that has changed thanks to the California Consumer Privacy Act. Pending a 2020 adoption into law, Californians will have the right to view any data companies hold on them.

To get ahead of the ruling, many of these companies are finally honoring requests for information. After his request for his Sift file was approved, one NYT reporter saw a shocking amount of personal information, like what he had ordered for lunch, how often he opened a specific app and similar intrusive data.

Why are companies doing this?

Most of these data collection companies operate under a similar pretense to people finder websites — which build profiles of individuals for people like hiring managers and private investigators to purchase. Click or tap to learn how to remove yourself from people finder websites.

In the case of companies like Sift, the organizations they partner with are interested in finding out whether you’re likely to commit fraud or abuse return policies. Others are eager to know what your shopping habits are so they can advertise and market to you more effectively.

Ultimately, these groups are just picking up and running with the precedent set by Facebook, which sees app users and consumers as commodities to be bought and sold for profit.

How can I find my score? What do they know about me?

Unfortunately, not all of these companies produce a true number score they’re comfortable sharing with consumers. What they will show you is all the data they have on you that they sell to others.

There are several consumer scoring companies, and each one has a different process for obtaining the data. Here are some of the biggest names we know of:

  • Sift requires you to email privacy@sift.com. Explain what you’re interested in knowing, and make sure to ask for a complete digital copy of the data.

  • Riskified compiles data on abusive consumer behavior and trustworthiness. Just like others, you’ll need to request your report by emailing privacy@riskified.com.

  • Kustomer aggregates data on consumer behavior like spending, shopping habits and personal preferences. To find out what they know, email privacy@kustomer.com

  • Zeta Global identifies high-spending consumers. It currently allows you to request your data via an online form.

  • Retail Equation determines whether consumers will abuse return policies and customer service perks. They’ll send your report if you email returnactivityreport@theretailequation.com.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable having your private data shared with bizarre entities like these companies, you’ll need to cut off their feed at the source: your social media accounts. Click or tap here to learn how to delete your information from the internet.

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