By Russ and Tiña De Maris
If you’re like a lot of folks who get swamped with emails, you may have missed this one. Verizon Wireless, cellular service provider to 54% of our polled readers, recently sent a notice of a new “Verizon Custom Experience” program. We’d bet that even those who opened the email probably trashed it at this point. But hang on, your customer privacy is at risk – if you don’t take positive steps to protect it.
Give your privacy away for “rewards”
Here’s the glowing Verizon promise of what you get. The program, “helps us personalize our communications with you, give you more relevant product and service recommendations, and develop plans, services, and offers that are more appealing to you. For example, if we think you like music, we could present you with a Verizon offer that includes music content or provide you with a choice related to a concert in our Verizon Up reward program.”
Here’s what you give away to get it. Verizon says it uses “information about the websites you visit and the apps you use on your mobile device to help us determine your interest.” What else? How about, “Device location information we obtain from the Verizon network and from Verizon apps you have permitted to collect location for these purposes.” Anything else? The helpful, “Can you hear me now>” folks will also collect ”information about the phone numbers you call or that call you and the times you receive these calls.” In short, you simply give up your customer privacy so Verizon can point you to some great music, sports activities, etc.
Verizon is quick to point out they’re not selling your information to third parties. However, the in-house death-grip on your information can last a long time. Here’s their retention policy: “We keep information about the websites you visit for no more than 6 months.” They add, “We keep location and CPNI information we use for these programs for approximately one year. We regularly refresh the interest categories we develop as part of the Custom Experience programs (e.g., “coffee lover” or “sports enthusiast”) and keep them as long as you are participating in the programs or until you reset your line.”
You MUST act to keep your privacy
Don’t think for an instant this Verizon Custom Experience is a program you sign up for. If you never bothered to read the email on the subject, or fail to take action, you will be automatically signed up for the program 30 days from your “notification.” The only way to avoid the program, and keep your customer privacy, is to take positive action and “opt out”. How do you do that?
You’ll need to log into your Verizon customer account and make the changes. For those (like us) who don’t use the Verizon app, you’ll log into your account via the internet. They don’t make it easy to keep your customer privacy intact. We couldn’t find privacy settings, and finally entered it as a search term. We then got a hit for “Change Privacy Settings.” Click it, then scroll down the option window to “Privacy Preferences.”
Under this option, several settings are given. You might want to look at each of them to ensure your account is set up as you want. For this new program, click on “Customer Experience”. You’ll need to click “Don’t Use” for each device you have with Verizon that you want to opt out of. Then be sure to click on “Save Changes”. For those using the Verizon app, we’re hopeful it’ll be easier to find what you need to make the changes.
One more thing
Verizon had a somewhat similar program some time back. The friendly phone folks have made it easy for you. If you “opted out” of that program, don’t worry – they’ll automatically enroll you in this new program all over again. Look sharp, everyone!
How about it? Do you feel your customer privacy is infringed on enough already without getting shoved into a situation where you need to “opt out” to keep it? We’d love to hear your comments.