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Are You Being Tracked at the Grocery Store?

Jackie here. If you haven’t heard of or thought about in store tracking, you are likely missing an emerging privacy trend. Retailers are increasingly turning to your smartphone to gather data about you and to track your movements throughout the store. Here’s what you need to know:

In Store Tracking- Does it Really Happen?

In store tracking sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it can and does occur. Using the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from your smartphone, retailers, airports, and other businesses can effectively track your movements throughout the area, provide customized advertising, and link your online and offline identities.

While there are some potential consumer benefits to in store tracking (like additional discounts or customized promotions), there are also some privacy concerns. Using tracking, retailers and others can begin to develop a comprehensive picture of your activities. They can know when you come and go, what areas in the store you visit, what you buy, and more. This data is valuable to businesses, but might have value to identity thieves and hackers as well.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself from In Store Tracking?

If you’re concerned about in store tracking, you don’t have a lot of options. Here are a few things you can try to better protect your privacy.

Turn Off Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth– At the moment, most stores use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to track your movements throughout the store. Turning these features off can effectively stop tracking.

Find Out Before You Sign Up– Many of the stores that use tracking do so in conjunction with an opt-in program using either their own or a third-party app. Pay attention when you’re signing up for programs and read the terms and conditions. Make sure you’re comfortable with the information you’re agreeing to share.

Ask Questions– If you have questions about a retailer’s tracking policies, ask them. They should be able to provide you information about whether tracking is occurring, if you can opt-out, how data is stored, etc.

In store tracking is coming soon to a store near you. Are you excited for customized promotions or worried about the privacy implications?

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