TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Risks Mount as Stores Mine a Wealth of Shopper Data

Risks Mount as Stores Mine a Wealth of Shopper Data

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 21 Feb 2007 15:28:42 -0500

Vast troves of information are vulnerable to fraud
By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff

With a scan of your index finger, some supermarkets memorize what kind
of toilet paper or cereals you buy. They share that information with
suppliers who offer coupons so you'll purchase more of their products
next time.

Other merchants collect your driver's license number when you make a
return. They share that information with a company that keeps track of
your returns. If you have too many, the store may suspect you're
making fraudulent exchanges and ban you from bringing back

Retailers have become huge repositories of personal data in recent
years, assembling increasing amounts of information and sharing more
of it with others. But in the quest for knowledge, some merchants,
like TJX Cos., have become prime targets for thieves looking to pilfer
sensitive information, and have made their customers more vulnerable
to fraud and identity theft. Indeed, some analysts believe store
databases are becoming even more valuable than stolen merchandise.

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