The price of loyalty cards -

What's the price of loyalty cards?

If you're like most consumers, your wallet is probably loaded with dozens of yellow and green and red cards. You've got a card for the grocery store, the drug store, maybe a couple of restaurants or retail stores. Every time you swipe one, you're rewarded with a certain percentage off or points toward a future purchase. But how much are you actually giving up to get that discount?

Most loyalty cards typically require the same type of information. Your name, address, birthday, and ages of your children. Each card has a privacy agreement about what can be done with your personal information. 

Stores analyze buying data with the hopes of more efficient advertising and marketing. But it's more than how many times a week you buy bread and milk. Not only are they compiling data on what you buy, but also the day, the time and how you pay for it. Over time that builds a valuable profile of you. So should you worry about the safety of the info collected? 

Most privacy agreements state that a business won't give or sell any identifying information for marketing purposes, but security breaches are becoming commonplace, like the most recent Sony hack that left 100 million accounts vulnerable. And what happens when stores close down? Assets get purchased including your personal data. Information can't be given away, but according to consumer affairs, it can be subpoenaed for situations like custody hearings or criminal prosecution. 

There are several websites that connect your loyalty card to their programs for digital coupons and rebates. Now a third party is involved in the transaction and you have no idea what they can do with your spending data. If you are a diehard coupon clipper, you can find out what kind of data a store is keeping on you. Each store is unique, so you'll have to call or visit their customer service representatives or press office. Ask how the store controls your information, how it's maintained and that you'd like a copy of all of your information on file. 

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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