Top 5 ways you're being tracked

Your personal information used for advertising
Posted at 4:45 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-26 09:16:20-04

Your personal information might not be so personal when shopping, or simply using your phone.

"I would say 99 percent of the tracking done they have no clue that's happening," WPTV Internet Security Expert Alan Crowetz said.

Your personal information, where you've been and what you've done could mean big money for advertisers.

Crowetz, President and CEO of Infostream, Inc.,helped us identify the top 5 ways you're being tracked right now.

#1 Your smartphone

Many stores, especially big box stores gather and track your smartphone mac address. It's a number specific to your phone that can be used for a lot of things.

"They don't know it's you, they know it ties to this number. But they could save that number; they could see how frequently you come back, if you go to any of their other stores. There is a lot of valuable information a retailer can learn about you that you don't even know you sharing," said Crowetz.

#2 Using WIFI

There is usually a terms of agreement page when you're signing on to a wireless internet connection. Most people speed through the fine print.

 "Of course the people who are trying to trick you don't want you to read it and they tend to bury it," Crowetz said.

Connecting to WIFI could allow a store to look at your internet history, phone contacts and more. That company could share your information for advertising purposes.

#3 Bluetooth and your sharing your location

Your mac address we mentioned can also be transmitted through your Bluetooth. If you're not using it, turn it off.

Also, when you share your location, such as in a text, you have the choice of making this indefinite. That means the person will know where you are at all times!

If you've ever lost your phone and get it back, you should check through your contacts and make sure the location service is off for each one.

#4  Email tracking

If you thought checking "no" on a return receipt box for an email was enough to keep you free from tracking, think again.

Crowetz says many companies embed a picture the size of a pinpoint in emails letting the sender know you opened it and clicked any links within the email.

#5 Retargeting ads

Ever search for something like music or clothes, only to find an ad for that same thing pops up days later in some webpage you’re looking at? That's because some sites will drop a code in your internet cookies, enabling them to place ads on future websites you browse.

Much of this tracking could help advertise things you might actually need.

"A lot of it is trading your information and privacy for this help. So decide where you are on that spectrum,"  
Crowetz said.