Acxiom is offering a new service at AboutTheData.com to show you what the big data brokers know about you. I reviewed my account, and wow, they are really, really wrong. They think I am older than my father, only completed high school, have a 12 year-old child, and earn $19k a year. Not even close!
They did know that I purchase a vehicle in 2012, but their other shopping data was entirely off. They say I respond to Mail Orders! I have never used a mail order in my life (unless you count those book order slips we had in grade school). And it says I am interested in Gift Flowers, Arts and Antiques, Holiday Products, Stationary, and Sports & Leisure Products. I don’t know that I’ve ever bought any of those items. And the amount of money they suggest I spend on offline purchases is not even in the ballpark.
As for my household interests, it knows that I like computers, but it also thinks I like gourmet cooking, collecting antiques, and the arts. Nope.
Out of an abundance of caution, I ordered a fresh copy of my credit report, to make sure some 60-year old single father who likes stationary didn’t hijack my account. Everything looks okay.
Do I even bother correcting them? Any potential creditors can see my accurate background, but marketers will be sent for a total loop, and totally mistarget me. As Ryan Calo argues in a recent important article (which I’ll write about more later), marketers informed by big data may be a bad thing, as they can target us right where we are vulnerable.
A friend on Twitter wrote that I now have privacy due to inaccuracy. For someone who puts so much of his life in cyberspace, I find it odd, but I’ll take it.