Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Web Secret 603: Secret consumer score
Last month, a New York Times article said we all have “secret scores”: hidden ratings that determine how long each of us waits on hold when calling a business, whether we can return items at a store, and what type of service we receive. A low score sends you to the back of the queue; high scores get you elite treatment.
These systems are largely invisible to the public, most people have no inkling they even exist. As an example, a company called Sift has a proprietary scoring system that tracks 16,000 factors for companies like Airbnb and OkCupid. Sift judges whether or not you can be trusted.
The companies gathering and paying for this data find it extremely valuable for rooting out fraud and increasing the revenue they can collect from big spenders. Sift has this data because the company has been hired by Airbnb, Yelp, and Coinbase to identify stolen credit cards and help spot identity thieves and abusive behavior. Still, the fact that obscure companies are accumulating information about years of our online and offline behavior is unsettling, and at a minimum it creates the potential for abuse or discrimination — particularly when those companies decide we don’t stack up.
As of this past summer, though, Sift and other similar companies must produce your file upon request.
Here's how to get your data:
Sift asks you to email email@example.com.
Zeta Global, which identifies people with a lot of money to spend, lets you request your data via an online form.
Retail Equation, which helps companies such as Best Buy and Sephora decide whether to accept or reject a product return, will send you a report if you email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riskified, which develops fraud scores, will tell you what data it has gathered on your possible crookedness if you contact email@example.com.
Kustomer, a database company that provides what it calls “unprecedented insight into a customer’s past experiences and current sentiment,” tells people to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just because the companies say they’ll provide your data doesn’t mean they actually will.