Have you ever bought something and wondered why you were asked for your zip code?
That 5-digit code you thought was just for routing mail is a massive multi-million dollar business. Every time you give out your zip code, you are giving data companies and retailers the ability to track your personal habits.
Privacy experts are concerned about what habits can be tracked about a person. The scary thing is most people don’t know how much information data companies have. For example, Axicom has information for more than 190 million people. Typical personal information includes your age, marital status, education level, and other basic facts.
You need to know that you don’t have to tell a store your zip code and the Federal Trade Commission is now requiring brokers to tell the agency how they obtain their information. However, the National Retail Federation counters with the point with that zip code consumer data makes it easier for companies to market to their customers with more relevant, targeted marketing campaigns.
Read an excerpt about how your zip code is used for tracking your personal data.
“For the majority of the country, the zip code is going to be the piece of the puzzle that is going to enable a merchant to identify you,” said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Once a retailer identifies you, it can track and analyze your spending behaviors and background in order to predict what you might buy next. In the data world, this is often called predictive analysis or predictive modeling.