How marketers really leverage personal data

Following the latest ruling from the European Court of Justice that struck down a data-sharing pact between the US and EU, mega-data holders such as Facebook and Google have ended up in a sort of legal limbo.

Big data impacts personal financial health
Big data impacts personal financial health

But this legal limbo probably won’t take too long to resolve. Already, a new data-sharing agreement between the EU and US is currently under negotiation and to top it all off, with TTIP and ISDS on the horizon to create the largest and wealthiest free trade area in the world, data has not gone away.

So let’s take a quick look at how data is used to give marketers an edge across the US and Canada:

  1. Banks and credit unions use credit data to target those they want to market to while excluding those with poor credit histories from the very best deals.
  2. Employers – even here in Ireland, if you have a bad credit rating, this can preclude you from certain jobs.
  3. Insurers – across the US, insurers are increasingly using personal credit data to tailor offers and exclude those with especially poor credit scores. It seems there is a link between bad credit and poor driving habits!
  4. Landlords – yes, they also use credit data to evaluate prospective tenants.
  5. Hospitals – even hospitals have gotten in on the act. Some run credit checks to evaluate who gets admitted! Pay your bills or don’t get ill!

The rise of automated credit scoring algorithms has made the evaluation of who we are and how we deal with money a 2-second process as companies such as Fair Isaacs, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union whittle our life story into a 3-digit summation; the personal credit score. We have literally become bits of ourselves.

Data matters a lot. This latest salvo from the ECJ will not be the last and with so much at stake, it’s only a matter of time before the marketers negotiate a new set of rules.

Finally, here in Ireland, the new Central Credit Register will replace the current Irish Credit Bureau. Expected to be up and running in the next year or so, it will introduce greater use of credit scoring to evaluate us.

Data is simply too powerful to be left in the hands of the courts.

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