The media – of all sorts – is replete with warnings about how our privacy is illusory these days. Whether it is government spying, corporate collection of information, dumpster diving, cell-phone tracking or even the age-old problem of nosy neighbors, there is a great deal of information about us available out there. If you are one of the ever decreasing number of folks who don’t believe our privacy is compromised, maybe the experience of some of my colleagues will help convince you.
Two close colleagues are currently age 64 and both will attain age 65 during 2018. Each has a limited online presence with social/business media but and does not spend a lot of time or energy on those sites/apps. They also report having signed up for the national do not call registry, such as it is.
However, once the calendar turned over to 2018, their lives have changed. Both are inundated with seemingly endless phone calls from a variety of firms offering some aspect of Medicare related services (or at least products they want to sell). Each colleague receives regular mailings from a variety of sources, again offering information on Medicare related products and services. Never is any actual information supplied, simply a variety of come-ons for gathering more data about the person being contacted. Whether this is to sell products and services or to resell personal data is not always clear and may well overlap.
What does this activity tell my colleagues – and you? Your information is being made available, likely sold, to marketing firms for a variety of purposes, in this case overtly for Medicare related marketing but also quite possibly for other marketing or even more nefarious purposes. Just because this is happening to my colleagues does not mean that something similar may happen to you, with a surfeit of unwanted mail and calls packing your mailboxes, voice and otherwise.
Perhaps one may be grateful that the use of their personal data is primarily annoying as opposed to actually threatening or damaging. But underlying it all is the clear fact that no matter how private we may think some or many aspects of our lives are, they are not nearly as private as we think. Funny that this is so despite all the privacy notices we receive from those we do business with – even their measures and procedures don’t ensure our information is not available more broadly than we would prefer.