Mark Pribish

FTC to examine privacy issues with 'cross-device tracking'

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Imagine a private investigator watching your every move and listening along the way as you go about your daily activities. Welcome to "cross-device tracking," the digital investigation and tracking of our entire online lives, from social media to general Web searches, regardless of the device or platform used.

Nearly every time you use the Internet from laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearable devices that interact with applications, platforms, publishers, and software, you are being tracked by advertising and marketing companies. This is called cross-device tracking.

It's almost impossible to protect your privacy as a consumer when businesses are targeting you for marketing and advertising purposes, whether you are using multiple devices or not.

The Federal Trade Commission has taken notice. It announced last week that it is going to examine privacy issues related to advertising and marketing companies that track consumers across devices connected to the Internet.

In the simplest of terms, this tracking is done by researching consumers' search engine habits and then customizing a marketer's value proposition for each one.

Big data (as in database research, analytics and marketing) has been going on for decades. One example of big data is the use of cookies, in which marketers target potential customers by tracking their browsing habits, including sites visited, age, marital status and political and religious affiliations.

The beauty of cookie tracking is that it's not limited to when a consumer is on a particular site but throughout the entire time a consumer is browsing. This means that marketers now can direct offers and advertisements that are specific enough to motivate a product purchase.

The FTC is soliciting public comments on these questions:

  • What are the different types of cross-device tracking, how do they work, and what are they used for?
  • What types of information and benefits do companies gain from using these technologies?
  • What benefits do consumers derive from the use of these technologies?
  • What are the privacy and security risks associated with the use of these technologies?
  • How can companies make their tracking more transparent and give consumers greater control over it?
  • Do current industry self-regulatory programs apply to different cross-device- tracking techniques?

Your comments can be submitted online via the following link: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/crossdeviceworkshop/.

The FTC will use your responses to examine the privacy issues and security risks created by the use of cross-device tracking.

Digital private investigators are watching your every online move. Let your voice be heard by submitting your comments to the FTC on cross-device tracking.


To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Alert -- Look Out for Door-to-Door Magazine Scams This Spring

Like seasonal allergies and rainy weather, door-to-door magazine scams are an annual annoyance that return each spring. Be on the lookout for scammers selling fake magazine subscriptions.

How the Scam Works:

You answer your door, and it's someone selling magazine subscriptions. The seller may claim that he/she is raising money for a school or charity. The subscription prices seem steep. In fact, they are typically three times the typical price. However, the money goes to a good cause, so you purchase one anyway. Months pass, and your magazine never arrives. Turns out the magazine fundraiser is totally fake!

There are many versions of this scam. Sometimes the sales people call instead of going door-to-door. Other times, "subscribers" are charged monthly fees instead of an annual subscription rate. Some sellers don't even realize they are working for a scammer!

How to Avoid Magazine Scams:

  • Don't fall for high-pressure sales tactics: Scammers use high-pressure tactics, hoping you'll make a purchase or bad decision before you can think it over. Don't fall for it.
  • Ask to see the terms and conditions: Legitimate magazine companies will give you the details in writing, including the commitment period, total price and cancelation instructions.
  • Request to see the seller's license. Many municipalities require a solicitation license before you can sell door-to-door. If your town has this law, be sure to ask to see the seller's license.
  • Contact your magazine publisher. If you are uncertain about your magazine subscription, contact the magazine publisher directly with questions or concerns.
  • Check with BBB. Not all door-to-door magazine sales are scams. Look up the seller on our website at bbb.org to see what others' experience has been, or call your local BBB for more information.

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau - for more information visit http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.