‘Sharing data for discounts risky’

Sunil Pradhan
Friday, 22 June 2018

With the rise in the number of e-commerce websites, several companies are trying to acquire customers using various discount coupons. However, experts claim that these are just marketing strategies and users are hardly benefited. Sakal Times in a three-part series explores various ways e-commerce websites are trying to target consumers.

Pune: ‘Flat 30 per cent off on your first order with max discount of Rs 100’, ‘Get 50 per cent off on your first order’, ‘Get 33 per cent off on yoaur first five orders’, these are some discount offers used by online food delivery companies that are competing to attract customers.

Read Part I: Discount coupons can end up a phishing trap

There are more than eight service providers delivering food after online bookings, which give ample opportunities to customers, but leave them confused as to which platform to opt for. Experts say such offers have become a trend in the e-commerce industry and have alerted customers about the risk involved in availing such offers.

Advocate Gaurav Jachak, who handles cases of cybercrime, said people should avoid falling prey to such offers. “We must understand that nothing comes free in this world. It is a give and take relation. The companies take your personal data, including your name, phone number, email and bank credentials just to give you that offer,” he said.

“You are parting with important data at a mere cost of Rs 100 to Rs 200, which is dangerous,” added Jachak. He said that once massive data is collected, it can be sold to several companies and used in data analytics. “People should check whether such offers are really profitable and worth it,” added Jachak.

Cyber expert Chirayu Mahajan said, “Many a times, discount coupons are a waste of time and so people should be alert and check for coupon validity before using one. I was trying to use a discount coupon to order food but failed to get the offer. Later, after research, I came to know that the offer code was applicable only for Eid,” added Mahajan.

Experts say people are exposing their likes and dislikes along with their personal data. “Due to the digital boom, a person can be tracked round the clock. Huge data is created about what a person eats, when he sleeps and where he goes, and this digital profile of a person is permanent. The new data privacy law talks about the right to be forgotten, in which a person has the right to secure his past data. However, we cannot trust companies as what is the assurance that a company will delete our stored information?” said a cyber 
expert. 

Tips to keep yourself safe
- Use alternate bank accounts for online transactions.
- Avoid using services that require location information.
- Be alert when people ask for very personal information like date of birth.
- Companies should take consent from customers before seeking personal data.
- Privacy agreement should be signed between companies and customers that data collected will not be misused.

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