Your Credit Card Metadata isn’t as Anonymous as You Think

The credit card metadata is not as much anonymous information as you might think it is. You’ll be surprised to learn that details which appear to be of non-importance can be exploited by others, who can link this type of data to your identity even if they didn’t actually contain any personal information.

This practice has been demonstrated successfully by MIT researchers and the relative study was published in a science journal, documenting the amount of information used for identifying customers. With as little information as the price of four purchases made by credit card, date and location, the MIT researchers could detect the majority of the credit card owners of those transactions.

Valuable information on your credit card metadata

When you have a first look at the purchasing history of your credit card, you consider this information as insignificant. But there are categories of people / organizations that can find great value at this type of information. One example is the law enforcement agencies which validate the data so as to help them in identifying criminals. Another example is the marketers, who need to get feedback on various items like the popularity of specific products and the purchasing trends.

Credit cards owners can make use of existing free services which offer credit score information thus making it easier for them to monitor how their personal information is being used. This function allows the customers to be proactive on detecting potential identity theft.

Steps performed by various governments

The government of the United States of America and the government of Australia have performed some steps in regards to consumer data retention. With acts like “Personal Data Notification & Protection” and “Student Digital Privacy”, the U.S. government is trying to deal with problems like overseas trade in identities and the leaking of information of students who use tech-based educational programs.

Australia on the other hand has passed laws for retaining customer data for the use of law enforcement purposes. Although the initial purpose for this legislation was to “increase public safety”, there are concerns from many Australian citizens that this might be a breach of privacy for them and so Senator Ludlam has raised this concern and has stated that he will work for the repeal of this legislation.

Protecting your anonymity

There are a number of steps to take if you would like to retain your anonymity when you make your purchases. A new payment technology has been introduced, called “tokenization”. By making use of this technology, you make your purchases with tokens which can be used only by yourself and only for one purchase per token. This way, the researchers won’t be able to link the purchases you make back to you. So, protect your anonymity and keep your information safe by making use of the latest tools available.

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