With Black Friday almost upon us again, and consumers preparing to splash the cash on various discounts and promotions, it’s come to light that the vast majority of people still don’t understand how companies handle the personal data handed over during the purchase journey.
A Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 UK adults found that 88% of Brits are concerned about how companies manage their personal information. However, despite this concern, 90% admit to not having a full understanding of what companies do with their data.
While 87% of consumers shop online, just 11% of them bother to read the privacy policies on all the services they use. Breaking this down further, 35% ‘sometimes’ read privacy policies, 32% only read them on rare occasions, and 17% have never read privacy policies on any online service at all.
“Black Friday and the holiday shopping season are fast approaching, and while it’s a time of excitement for UK consumers, it’s essential to be aware that some online retailers may use strategies based on personal data and browsing activity to tailor the shopping experience,” said Mark Hooson, Technology Specialist at Forbes Advisor.
“Sometimes, seemingly attractive deals may not always represent genuine value. In light of this, it’s vital that consumers remain vigilant and continue shopping around.”
In some instances, the lack of understanding around personal data also extends to how this data is harvested and used, with 31% of consumers are unaware that websites can collect information about their online behaviour without them having to register for those sites. And 20% don’t realise that social media platforms use their personal data to target ads.
Interestingly, while concerns exist around target ads, 29% of Brits find targeted ads to be helpful. This figure grows to 48% amongst 18-34-year-olds and 32% for those aged 35-54.
A further concern – one that has been a point of contention for many years – is the possibility of social media platforms accessing people’s microphones and acquiring data, with 82% of Brits worried about this.