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Banks sharing your credit, debit card info with marketing companies

April 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Imagine your bank sharing details about the purchases you made with your credit card or debit card. By knowing exactly what you bought, marketing companies can send targeted ads directly to you, often with your bank statement.

Each time you pay with plastic your bank is watching, analyzing and calculating every move you make.

"I was a little bit surprised," said bank customer Oren Milgram.

When Milgram opened his most recent credit card statement he found coupon offers mixed in with the rest of his charges, like "save up to 35 percent on tax software" and "discount entertainment." When clicking on the ad, the bank warns he's going to be taken to a third party website.

Milgram, a marketing company owner, is trying to balance his privacy versus loving to get a great deal.

"I like to see relevant offers. I want to see relevant offers," he said.

Some banks are using new, high tech ways to make money by using your buying history for very specific target marketing.

"When you take your debit or credit card and use it at the point of sale, it looks at where you shop, how often you shop, what you've purchased," explained Mark Johnson, president and CEO of Loyalty 360, The Loyalty Marketer's Association.

He says banks make deals with certain retailers who then try to get you to try their products by tracking what you're interested in.

"What that allows these banks and issuers to do is to amalgamate all this information, cross reference that with what they know about your monetary income, your lifestyle, life stage and make more tailored transactional marketing offers to you," said Johnson.

"It's just another potential point for someone to lose information or for hackers to get it," said Justin Brookman.

If you don't want banks to share your information, be sure to read and respond to those privacy rights pamphlets. If you opt out that protects you from banks sharing some of your information with third parties.

"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," said Milgram.

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing a new "Do Not Track" program which would allow consumers to opt out completely. Federal lawmakers are also considering a new law to limit how banks can use your information.