What does Acxiom know about you? More than you think, not all of it true

AboutTheData.com lets you peel back the cover of the data mining giant and look inside. You may be surprised what you find there.

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This info is mostly harmless, but not entirely. In the Household Interests category Acxiom had pegged my wife as “interested in smoking/tobacco products,” which she most definitely is not.

Of course, we’ve told our health insurance company that neither of us smoke. So what happens when our insurer buys data from a broker like Acxiom that says otherwise? Who are they going to believe? They’re probably going to believe the source that allows them to charge a higher premium. The same goes for categories like “Low-Fat Cooking,” “Health/Medical,” and “Dieting/Weight Loss.”

I corrected the tobacco mistake. Afterward, the Household Interests category looked like this:

Not false, merely “(Was: True).” Like she used to smoke, but recently quit. Or she decided to lie about it. Any way you look at it, it’s weird.

Data be the day

The purpose of AboutTheData is to allow you to review your information, correct any bits they got wrong, and select which categories of marketing you would like to receive, if any. The real truth is that Acxiom is trying to get consumers to clean its data for free. That’s fine. Better than keeping us all in the dark about what they think they know about us.

You can also use links on the site to opt out of Acxiom marketing entirely. You’ll have to fill out a form providing all the names you are known by, as well as any email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses a marketer might use to contact you.

I strongly urge you to opt out. Do it now, I’ll wait. In a couple of weeks, Acxiom plans to announce a new service for marketers that will make the reasons for opting out even more compelling. Stay tuned for further developments.

Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he'll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to's, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Now read this:

Further adventures in data mining, or welcome to my Lear Jet lifestyle

Axciom exposed: A peek inside one of the world’s largest data brokers

What do data miners really know about us? We may soon find out.

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