Yelp, Airbnb, Twitter, and other apps are secretly rating you as a consumer. Here's how to check your score.

Yutong Yuan/Business Insider
  • Businesses give everyone – including you – a secret rating based on how much you’ve spent, your consumer preferences, and other personal information apps and websites have collected.
  • These scores can be used to rank how valuable you are as a customer or predict your shopping activity.
  • Thanks to a new privacy law, the companies that collect these ratings are now legally required to turn over your “file” upon request.
  • Here’s how to request your “file” from five companies identified by The New York Times that compile consumer scores.
  • Visit Business Insider for more stories.

The messages you sent to your Airbnb host, meals you ordered via Yelp, and posts you liked on Twitter are all being tracked and secretly stored in your personal ‘file,’ which those companies can use to determine how valuable you are as a customer.

People’s secret files are typically aggregated from their activity on these apps and stored by third parties, five of which were identified in a recent report by The New York Times’ Kashmir Hill.

Thanks to a newly passed California law, companies will have to start providing users in the US with a copy of their file upon request. A similar law is already in place in the European Union.

The third-party companies that aggregate people’s consumer files say the primary purpose is to detect suspicious behaviour and identify possible hackers. However, a June report from the Consumer Education Foundation calls for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how secret consumer scores are used.

“Major American corporations, including online and retail businesses, employers and landlords are using Secret Surveillance Scores to charge some people higher prices for the same product than others, to provide some people with better customer services than others, to deny some consumers the right to purchase services or buy or return products,” the report warns.

Here’s a rundown of five companies that compile secret files on people and how to request your file.


Most companies will require that you verify your identity using official documents, so have your diver’s licence or another ID on hand.


Sift is one company that determines “consumer trustworthiness,” aggregating data from clients including Yelp, Twitter, Airbnb, and Zillow.

Sift

You can request your consumer score directly from Sift.

Sift

First, email [email protected]. You’ll then be directed to complete a Google form.


Zeta Global focuses on identifying consumers who are likely to spend large amounts of money.

Zeta Global

There’s an online form to check whether you’re in Zeta Global’s database.

Zeta Global

You can fill out the online form here. According to The New York Times, only about 10 people had requested their file from Zeta Global as of November.


Retail Equation is a company that tracks consumer behaviour for clients including Best Buy and Sephora. Among other things, it can predict whether a user will return a product in good or bad condition.

Retail Equation

You can obtain your report from the Retail Equation by emailing the company directly.

Retail Equation

To request a report, email [email protected].


Riskified is a company that predicts fraud and tries to identify likely scammers, partnering with clients ranging from Prada to Amazon’s Ring.

Riskified

You can check whether Riskified thinks you might be a fraud by emailing the company directly.

Riskified

The email address to request your file is [email protected].


Kustomer is a company that says it can track “a customer’s past experiences and current sentiment.”

Kustomer

You can email Kustomer to see what information it has on you.

Kustomer

The email address to request your file is [email protected].


If a company isn’t cooperating with your request, be persistent.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Companies that do business in California – essentially every tech company – will be obligated to adhere to the new law starting in 2020, so you’re legally entitled to a copy of your file.

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