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5 Ways Retail Stores Spy On Their Shoppers

If you haven't read it, there is a good article at Consumer Reports which lists the ways retail stores spy on consumers while shopping. Not the online stores but the physical, brick-and-mortar store locations. Some of the ways stores spy on shoppers:

  1. Spy cameras: armed with facial recognition software, these cameras record and track both your movements in the store, the items you look at, and for how long. Some stores use mannequins that contain spy cameras, to distribute cameras thought store areas. Stores often merge these recordings with data from your purchases: amount, payment method (e.g., cash, credit, debit), store sections (e.g., clothing, shoes, housewares, etc.), and items browsed (e.g., pants, dresses, cookware, etc.). Outside cameras record your auto data (e.g., license number, make, model) which is also merged with interior recordings.
  2. Smart phone tracking: retailers record the geo-location data from your phone to map/track which departments you visit, in what order, and how long you stay in each department.
  3. Interactive digital ads: many contain tiny cameras to record the shoppers that view the ads.
  4. RFID technology: merchandise with radio frequency identification tags (RFID) can trigger nearby interactive digital ads, to then serve up targeted, personal ads based on the specific merchandise you are carrying
  5. Product returns: many stores demand photo identification to process product returns. Stores claim that the reasons for this are to prevent fraud, but the data collection includes shoppers who do not commit fraud.

What is worse is that the stores do no disclose any warning to shoppers or parents, except that most states require stores to post product return policies visibly in stores.

What's your opinion of the tracking/spying?


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