3 Worst Sites for Giving Away Customer Data

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With so much information shared online, organizations can build up detailed profiles of individuals, including their location, contact details, and demographics. This raises the risk that the data could end up being shared with those who use it for unethical and even illegal purposes. Here are three sites identified as being particularly active when it comes to giving away users’ data.

1. Experian

In 2020, an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) named consumer credit reporting company Experian as one of three similar companies (with Equifax and TransUnion) to have collected and utilized users’ personal data without their knowledge. While the other companies made the required changes, ICO found Experian had not gone far enough and issued an enforcement notice. Experian denies wrongdoing and is appealing the decision. The company’s updated privacy policy confirms data is shared with suppliers and “companies within the Experian group”, among others.

2. Facebook

Facebook is one of the Big Tech firms (along with Google and others) that uses personal data, both for the purposes of targeted advertising and to sell to third parties. The company places data trackers inside other apps, so the information gets fed back to Facebook. Check the “apps and websites” section of the privacy settings and you will see all the sites and apps with access to your Facebook data. Some of these will be sites that you use Facebook credentials to access. All social media platforms are renowned for collecting personal data on their users. So, if you are concerned about your online footprint, visit the privacy settings pages of any site on which you are active and update them to restrict how your personal data is shared.

3. PayPal

PayPal’s privacy policy reveals a sizeable list of third parties with which the online payment firm shares data. Maybe not surprisingly, many of these third parties are payment processors and fraud agencies. However, the policy also lists firms under the category of “marketing and public relations”. The types of data shared ranges from contact details to financial activity on PayPal’s site. While there are no suggestions of impropriety by PayPal, if you are interested in learning more about just how far the data you share can spread, the list makes for sobering reading.

Stop your data falling into the wrong hands

With the risks attached to sharing personal data online, it is important to stay alert. Companies and websites handle huge volumes of data, so individuals should take responsibility for their own online footprint, as much as possible. 

You can also consider using a data removal company, which contacts data brokers on your behalf to request your information is removed and ensures any deleted data does not later reappear. Data brokers are sites that specialize in selling all kinds of personal information, which raises the risk that your data will end up in the wrong place.

Finally, there are rules covering how organizations must store and use customer data. With the spread of Big Tech, regulating data sharing is an evolving space. Currently, the main legislation includes the EU General Data Protection Regulation, UK Data Protection Act 1998 and California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.

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