Have you noticed how many stores these days are trying to get you to sign up for their loyalty rewards programs? When you do, every time you use your card you can save something like 5 percent on your purchases. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? I mean, you were probably going to shop there anyway, but now you have an added incentive to visit that particular store rather than a competitor because it’ll save you money.
Actually, it is a very sweet deal…for the store. But it could be a very sour deal for you. The real reason that stores want their customers using these cards is not so that they can keep you coming back, although that’s an added bonus, but rather because they can sell your purchasing habits to a variety of marketing firms, health insurance companies and other businesses that are interested in keeping tabs on you.
Some of those companies that buy your information won’t do anything more annoying than target you with some ads. But others, such as health insurance companies, could be using your purchasing habits to turn you down for coverage, adjust your rates or maybe even deny your claims altogether. How is that possible?
Well, if they see that you’re buying a lot of ice cream, they may think you’re a health risk for diabetes. If you buy a lot of processed meats and homogenized milk, they may peg you as a risk for cardiovascular disease. If you buy a lot of processed foods with chemical sweeteners and preservatives, they may see you as a cancer risk.
Check out this article, “Grocery Loyalty Card Purchases Surveyed by Insurance Companies to Raise Rates and Deny Claims.” It’s gotten so you can’t even go out and pick up a few groceries for your family without Big Brother watching over your shoulder.
The writer of this article says that if you’re going to get a store’s loyalty rewards card, use a fictitious name. That way, you can enjoy the discounts without giving them your personal information and risking having your insurance rates raised.
Do you believe that your grocery store should have the right to sell information about you and your purchasing habits to third parties including insurance companies? Do you think it’s worth the 5 percent savings to allow companies to know what you’re buying? Please let me know what you think about this important topic.