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.
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What cell phone provider do you have?
Verizon has little respect for my privacy as I have learned over the many years I’ve been with them. Oh, they’ll pay lip service to the “we respect your privacy” game alright but use slick marketing gimmicks to redirect your attention away from their required disclosure statements. They structure their disclosures to require you to actively opt-out of their latest monetization scheme affecting your internet and location privacy. They lobby congress heavily to prevent European-style privacy regs from taking hold here (where a carrier has to convince you to opt-in because the European default is pro-privacy opt-out).
Verizon was one of the driving forces behind killing net-neutrality – the throttling of content you subscribe to unless your streaming service pays Verizon a ransom to stream on their network (remember, you have already paid Verizon for your enhanced bandwidth for streaming). Of course, this is a business expense the streamer passes along to you, the subscriber.
In my personal opinion, if you have Verizon as your cell service provider, it’s worthwhile to have the Verizon app on your phone. I updated my privacy preferences using the app and it was very easy. Thanks for calling this to our attention.
Thank you so much for the heads up. I already made the changes per your instructions.
Thanks SO much for the valuable article and the “how to!”
That was easy to change…but thank you for bringing to my attention!
I, too, read the fine print. However, I did not realize that it was an Opt OUT program rather than Opt IN! Thank you muchly!
Awesome, thank you. I was one who just ignored the email. Preferences changed!
Thanks for the tip!!
I went on to the Verizon app, on my phone. I could not find the opt out info, but I found they were charging one of our lines $5.99 per month for cloud service!!! Of course both Google and Apple are glad to charge us for that cloud service as well! So by prompting me to check my settings, I am now going to save $5.99 a month.
So sneaky. We had no idea we were receiving that charge for at least the last six months and many longer….
I am going to have to try the suggestions above from my computer….
Thank you! I did exactly as you described, ignored the e-mail, not wanting the product and not reading far enough to see I had to OPT OUT!
Many people are against regulating business, but businesses should not be able to change their terms like this. They should have to tell you what they are changing and you have the option to agree to the changes. Nothing should ever be changed without your consent.
A BIG Thank You Few would have been able to know about this, let alone find the options and OPT OUT! Keep the info coming!
Thank you! Just went to the website and got it changed. Searched “Privacy” then found “Change Privacy Settings” then “Consumer Experience”. I had to click “Don’t Use” for my phone and watch and my wife’s phone and watch. Really easy to do. Totally disregarded that email when it came through so thanks for the heads up.
I just spent half an hour trying to get through the menu maze at verizon. I may just go back to my basic trac phone, and drop verizon. They, like everyone else, apparently, have become more expensive, more intrusive and less interested in the ancient, outmoded concept of actual customer service. I hope they drown in their massive pool of collected data.
when I logged in (website/account/profile/privacy), there were actually FOUR different pages I had to access to change the settings. One of them was for account verification…. only? Dunno.
ALSO — anybody on family plan? Only the admin has control over all phones’ settings.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Just today after reading this, I received a text message from Verizon about this program, with an opt-out link. I followed the link and declined the (I think) 5 different options. And yes, the “Account Verification” options was concerning–it had warnings that third party apps might not work right if I disabled this. So confusing.
Just about every service, app, program, product, store, bank, credit card, rewards program, etc. we use does this–makes us agree to let them collect/use/sell our data. They also make us agree to arbitration for legal disputes, removing our right to sue in court. It’s in the fine print that we sign or agree to for almost everything. If we disagree, the alternative is to not use any products or services. The businesses would say this is theoretically to keep our costs down–I.E. it’s part of how they make profits so if we didn’t let them have our data, they’d have to increase prices to maintain their profits. They’re probably right.
I once heard that if I’m not paying for a product, then I *am* the product. That’s probably true. So when I need privacy, I do not store things on free services like Google Drive or even Gmail; I’ll use a private email address that I pay for on a private server, and I’ll store my docs locally or on a private encrypted cloud service that I pay for.
The result of monopolies or almost monopolies in businesses. Agree to the terms of a very few companies or you can’t function in modern society without them.
Using a vpn will also go a long way to protecting your privacy while using your devices
Doesn’t Verizon (or any cell network) already know our location and who we call at all times? We have already given up our privacy.
That has been a part of their business for years. They, knowingly to them and unknowingly to customers, sell/trade/release customer’s info out and violate standard privacy, for the sake of money and contact/tracing/location of every human possible. This is not new. The newest “trick” was during the pandemic(contact tracing) and was “hidden” under the guise of “protection”. As well, a Red Flag to people should have been clear when Verizon made it “Not Easy” to simply find your privacy settings to accommodate the CUSTOMERS wishes and preferences. Such as Front Page of your account. So many hidden privacy violations are inbred to newer cell phones and you have to be savvy and on top of this(which, as carriers hope) in order to be able to disable these unfair practices.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for publishing this warning about Verizon being a corrupt, sneaky data provider. I salute you!