When it comes to online samples and mobile coupons, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While all those discounts, coupons and freebies save you money, you’re actually paying for them in the form of your personal data.
Now this is nothing new. For decades companies have been collecting and selling all sorts of data about you. It comes from your credit card purchases, those store cards, subscriptions and “consumer” surveys.
The digital age just makes it all that much easier for companies to collect information about you. Phone apps, web browsing, online shopping and of course, social networks, the internet is a treasure trove of data for anyone who wants to collect it.
People are of two minds about it. Some want the offers/coupons/discounts and passing along some personal data is no biggy for those benefits. Some want them even more personalized. Like what’s a dog owner going to do with cat food coupons? So all this data mining can be a good thing.
Others are wary. They don’t want their insurance company or prospective boss knowing that they’ve been buying a case of beer every week or take high blood pressure medication.
There are some efforts to restrict all this “big data.” But right now, it’s every company for themselves. They’re collecting and selling to anyone (and I mean anyone!) who wants to buy it. But “forewarned is forearmed.” Remember that you’re in control of what you want to give up and to whom. So be careful out there.