The Privacy Tax, Part II – The Target Cartwheel App

Yesterday in the Privacy Tax (Part I) I showed how I saved about $250 dollars the past year by buying gift cards for myself at a discount. The Target App also lets you get discounts too, and on top of the Target Gift Cards I purchase for myself (usually about 4-6%) I’ve also saved $63.94 using their app. When you shop at Target using their app combined with a REDCard you can get a lot of great benefits and discounts on products, such as 5% off. It learns what you tend to purchase and then gives you a discount for those items in the future. Sometimes there are large % off items, and other times you get gift cards that you can use next time you go shopping there. It’s all designed to get you into the store more often. Once they get you in the store, you probably tend to buy more stuff than you initially intended. As long as you’re aware of this and can manage to keep control of the costs and only purchase things you actually need, you should be OK. I tend to buy protein bars a lot and I don’t usually care what brand I get, I go with the one that’s on sale, as recommended by the app. This is a great way to use this app. But there are also privacy concerns as well. If you read the privacy policy and terms and conditions for the Target REDCard for 5% off, you will see they get a lot more info about you than what you purchase at the store. The REDCard gets (and shares with partners) boilerplate items such as:
  • Social Security number and income
  • account balances and payment history
  • credit history and credit scores
  • account transactions
But they also collect & share things like:
  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • E-mail address
  • Phone (or mobile) number
  • Date of birth or age
  • Driver’s license number
  • Credit/debit card number
  • Purchase/return/exchange information
  • Registry or list information
  • Your mobile device information (e.g., device model, operating system version, device date and time, unique device identifiers, mobile network information)
  • How you use our sites and mobile applications, search terms, pages you visit on our mobile applications and application performance, as discussed further below
  • Geo-location and in-store location
  • Social media information (e.g., ID, profile picture, gender, age range, friends’ IDs)
Are you the ultimate Target of discount cards? But wait there’s more:
Targeted TV Ads We may display targeted ads to you through your cable or satellite TV provider. These ads are sent to groups of people who share traits such as likely commercial interests and demographics. For example, we may target TV ads to guests who have expressed an interest in shopping for groceries, cosmetics, clothing, etc. Store Cameras We use cameras in and around our stores for security purposes and for operational purposes such as measuring traffic patterns and tracking in-stock levels. Cameras in some stores may use biometrics, including facial recognition for fraud and theft prevention and security.
I believe that even though I’m not a REDCard holder, I’m being tracked in this way because they have my unique device identifier and email address. I’ve walked into their stores hundreds of times and they probably have my biometric facial data. I’ve spent some time using different accounts, but at the end of the day I think it’s a pointless endeavor because they know my device_id and what I’m purchasing.  That’s a lot of information to hand over for 5% off, don’t you think? For more on privacy check out:    

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