Have you ever been on hold a long time and thought, “It really can’t take this long.” Or had a store refuse a return and not give much of an answer beyond “Store policy”?
If this happens to you, there’s a chance your negative experience wasn’t happenstance, it was targeted directly at you, and driven by data collection.
Name brand companies TransUnion and CoreLogic, as well as firms you’ve probably never heard of like HireVue and Retail Equation, gather millions of bits of digital data from apps, cell phones, and other sources, much of which consumers give up voluntarily, to develop predictive models on how individuals behave. Based on their information, which is sold to service providers, landlords, retailers, and others, you might pay more for car insurance, be put on hold for longer while better clients are served, or even denied a refund if you take back items too often.
Before letting you rent an apartment, a landlord may consider your expected ability to handle a financial shock, or even pay higher rent when it comes up next year.
With so much data freely floating around and increasing computing power, companies can access specific, personal information like never before.
Oh, and there’s one other thing. They aren’t required to tell you.
The Houston Chronicle asked the FTC to investigate and regulate the industry, only to be directed to a blog post that urged the industry to regulate itself.