Google and Mastercard: What Can We Do?

Nov 13, 2018

Back in August, Bloomberg reported that Google had paid Mastercard millions of dollars to collect card members’ purchasing data. Google’s ad-purchasing partners can see if customers actually buy anything after clicking on an advertisement. Google defended the data purchase by saying that they were using new “double-blind encryption technology” to ensure that neither Google nor their business partners could see any personally identifiable information. Is this enough?

Big G is watching. (Source: Wiki)

This is just one example of a company buying and selling our personal information. Google already provides advertisers with GPS locations of ad clicks. The company says it tracks 70% of US credit and debit card transactions through various third-part partnerships and now we know that Mastercard is one of those third parties. Who else is involved? Are Visa cardholders at risk as well?

Mastercard says, “In processing a transaction, we see the retailer’s name and the total amount of the consumer’s purchase, but not specific items.” Should we feel better that they don’t know the individual items we purchased? It’s 2018, and we know that every move we make is being tracked in some way, but when massive amounts of personal data are stolen every day, where do we draw the line?

Unfortunately, there are only so many things consumers can do. We obviously can’t use cash for an online transaction and we have to provide a shipping address. But we can opt out of Google tracking. Click here when you’re signed in to your Google account and turn off the “Web and App Activity” slider. But what about all of the other companies that selling our info? We’re not trying to sound paranoid here, but it’s scary to know that our financial data is out in the wild!

You can also keep an eye on your bank account and try to limit your online shopping to one credit card that you check often. You can even set up most credit cards to receive an alert any time a transaction is processed. You may not be able to stop tracking, but you can try to keep the cyber criminals at bay when your data inevitably falls in to the wrong hands. Stay vigilant!