Giving away your personal data is a bad idea.
U.S. consumers love a good deal, and retailers know it.
That’s why coupon discounts are so popular with American shoppers. In fact, a new study from Capterra showed that 78% of online shoppers “have decided against making a purchase because they didn’t have a coupon.”
An additional 78% of consumers say they don’t like it when companies don’t offer coupons — the Capterra study notes 76% of consumers “would definitely or probably stop shopping from a company if it discontinued coupons they had become accustomed to using.”
There’s a downside to consumer devotion to coupons, and it’s a big one. According to the same study, 85% of online shoppers are okay with handing over sensitive personal data to companies in exchange for a coupon discount.
“Most consumers are willing to provide their email addresses (85%), gender (70%), and name (60%) in exchange for discounts,” the study stated. “In addition, significant proportions are willing to hand over their birthdate (48%), occupation (43%), and home address (32%).
Only 7% of consumers surveyed say they’re “not willing to provide any information in exchange for discounts,” the report noted.
Taking a Big Risk
Given the high rate of financial fraud risk, why would an otherwise rational person give their personal data away for a measly 10% discount on a pair of running shoes?
Basically, shoppers do so because they’re getting in on a deal.
“It’s no secret that consumers are enticed by discounts–there’s an urgency if the discount only lasts for a limited time and most shoppers like to feel like they’re saving money on a purchase,” said Sift trust and safety architect Brittany Allen. “Yet with the click of a button many consumers are unwittingly making their personal information vulnerable to fraud.”
A big part of the problem is a lack of education among shopping consumers.
“Americans aren’t taught about personal finance or told to prioritize their privacy,” said Lunar Digital Assets chief communications officer Nicole Grinstead. “Many implicitly trust the establishments who collect their identity information.”
Keeping Fraud Out of the Coupon Discount Equation
As providing access to personal data for a good deal is a significant risk, consumers should be extremely wary about giving away private information online.
“The website itself may be a scam, as many cyber thieves take a shopper’s money without ever fulfilling their order,” Allen told TheStreet. “Or, the merchant may not have the proper security protections in place, giving fraudsters the opportunity to steal a shopper’s credentials and payment information.”
Once an individual’s personal data gets into the hands of fraudsters, it gives them access to multiple accounts belonging to the victim. Make no mistake, having private consumer data in hand allows fraud artists to raid payment accounts in unique and damaging ways.
“Access to personal information, along with the fact that many consumers reuse the same password across multiple sites,” Allen added. “That makes it easy for fraudsters to use credential stuffing, where fraudsters use bots to input thousands of stolen usernames and passwords into websites to gain access to multiple accounts, which they can then drain of money or rewards points.”
What can consumers do to protect themselves from fraud? Allen advises taking these cyber theft prevention steps:
– Always be wary of heavily discounted price points, especially if a site is asking for more than a name and email address to access a discount.
– Never give out your social security number for discounts or rewards. “This type of information should only be provided to trusted financial institutions and government agencies,” Allen said.
– Always check the URL of the website and look for reviews of the merchant on credible review sites.
– Keep your data safe using a password manager. “This allows you to use a unique name and password for every site and store, and it remembers the passwords — so you don’t have to,” Allen noted.
– The common advice “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” remains true. “It’s important that consumers are cautious about where and how they share their information online,” Allen added.