What to Know About Collecting Consumer Data

Consumer data, which includes myriad data points on consumers and their habits, is being harnessed more and more frequently to help businesses drive sales and marketing initiatives. Here, the computer forensics and safe data destruction experts at Atlantic Data Forensics provide insight into consumer data collection.

Collecting and Analyzing Consumer Data Can Have Positive Outcomes for Companies and Consumers

Collecting and analyzing consumer data may be time-consuming but doing so can lead to positive outcomes for both consumers and the companies who collect and analyze the data. A variety of studies have shown that consumers are willing to share personal information if it will enhance their experience: a June 2015 study showed that 65% of consumers were willing to share data if it led to more targeted marketing, and 85% of consumers polled in a March 2015 study claimed they welcome personalized, data-driven retailer communications.

Companies who harness consumer data are able to detect consumer pain-points and correct them for an enhanced experience. They can also better strategize when considering marketing campaigns and new product offerings. This includes determining which online forums their target audience frequents the most in order to better market to them.

Collecting Consumer Data Requires a Consumer Privacy Policy

Collecting consumer data is legal, but companies must create a consumer privacy policy that is accessible to all consumers. While there are no specific requirements for the content contained within a privacy policy, it must be honest. A company that sells consumer information to third-party marketers but has a privacy policy that stipulates that consumer information is not sold to third-party marketers could be subject to legal consequences, for example. The key to a successful privacy policy is transparency: stipulate the data you collect, how you collect it, how long it is stored, whether you sell data to third-party marketers and how consumers can opt out of having their data collected or sold.

Consumer Data Destruction is Governed by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA)

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), passed in 2003, was created as a supplement to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in order to help protect consumers from identity theft by stipulating how consumer data is to be destroyed. According to FACTA, “any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose [must] properly dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal.” Consumer information may include names, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, birth dates, Social Security numbers and more. FACTA does not, however, specify the manner in which this data is destroyed, only calling for the method to be “reasonable.” It is important for companies to choose destruction methods that are thorough and extensive, including degaussing, physical pulverization or shredding or wiping hard drives and other devices to make data unrecoverable or unreadable.

Speak to a Computer Forensics and Data Destruction Expert About Best Practices for Storing and Destroying Data

Consumer data can create wonderful opportunities for companies to better cater to the needs of their consumers; however, companies have the responsibility to carefully store, manage and destroy consumer data to prevent data from being stolen or used in negative ways. The computer forensics and data destruction experts at Atlantic Data Forensics have helped hundreds of small, mid-size and large firms to safely and securely manage and destroy data. If your firm wants to take better control of consumer data, contact us today!