Photo: Flickr / LZdR
The idea of companies having an all-access pass to our spending data sounds scary, but should consumers fear for their finances because of it?A recent article in the Times explored a new digital score called the e-score, a calculation that marketers use to determine whether you’re worth the price of a stamp and an envelope.
Put another way, it’s data marketers buy when they want to sell a product, but don’t want to waste their money advertising to low-income consumers who probably can’t afford it. The data covers the usual like where you work, what you earn, and if you’re in debt.
E-scores sound very Web 4.0, but they’re really nothing new or something to worry about, says John Ulzheimer, credit expert with SmartCredit.com.
In fact, the practice of analysing buying patterns to see whether someone fits the profile of other “revenue producers” has been around for two decades. Anyone who thinks these scores sound invasive should remember they’re not—well, at least not as much as you think. Your information is out there, but companies can’t do a whole lot with it.
“It’s essentially telling a company whether they can mail something or not,” says Ulzheimer. It won’t affect your financial standing—e-score isn’t a credit report—so the fear that these scores could lump you into subprime category is a little misguided.
“E-scores are designed to predict whether or not you’re going to spend money. A credit bureau determines your creditworthiness,” Ulzheimer says.
If you’re truly freaked out about the information companies are gleaning from your spending habits, try to limit the amount of info you post on social networks and think twice about filling out a warranty card, which can be leveraged to help marketers learn more about you, says Tom Quinn, a credit expert with Credit.com.
“A lot of tech allows for easy scraping of info., which could be positive or a risk,” he says. “If you’re concerned, the best action action to take is to restrict what’s out there.”