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Purchased With A Card? Your Bank Is Watching

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 6PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Every time you use your credit card, your bank or credit card company is watching and taking notes. “It looks at where you shop, how often you shop, what you’ve purchased,” explained Mark Johnson of the Loyalty Marketers Association.

Experts say all that information is worth big money. According to Johnson, some banks make deals with certain retailers in an effort to get you to try their products by tracking what you are interested in.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

“What that allows banks to do is amalgamate all this information. [They] cross-reference it with what we know about your income, your lifestyle, life-stage,” he explained. The result is marketing offers specifically tailored to you.

Some banks and credit card companies are now embedding ads directly into their online statements. Oren Milgram found discounted tax software and deals on entertainment on his latest bill. He believes it is not necessarily a bad idea, depending on what the ads are. “I’d like to see relevant offers,” he said.

See: Consumer Articles

A great marketing tool for banks and the retail partners, but it is a practice that worries some privacy experts. “It’s just another potential point for someone to lose information or for hackers to get it,” explained Justin Brookman of the center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, DC.

If you don’t want banks to share your information, you can usually opt out. But Brookman believes that won’t protect you entirely. “They can share with affiliates or share with other companies under the same corporate control,” he said. “You can’t stop them for using it for other purposes you might not expect.”

Oren says he’s OK with the ads, at least for now. “Like most consumers, I’m concerned about my privacy and as long as I have a way to opt out or opt in; I’m comfortable,” he said.

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