Personal banking information could be up grabs

WASHINGTON – The federal government is not the only one collecting data on people around the world, as private companies collect the information that is willingly handed over every single day. Now there is a report that says some banks may begin to sell information about their customers.

Every time a debit or credit card is swiped or a mortgage or rent check is cashed, a bank collects information about the transaction and much of it shows up on customer bank statements.

But The Telegraph reports that several banks based in Britain are bringing in changes that may allow them to sell anonymized information about customers to advertisers.

The information could be used to predict where and when customers will make a purchase, which could help companies target offers. It also could help banks target things like credit card rewards.

The data mining is similar to what companies like Apple, Amazon and Google do as people browse the Internet. The companies, and others like them, track which websites people visit and make money by targeting ads to the people believed to be most likely to be interested in them.

Large datasets are becoming more valuable as computers get faster, allowing for higher-level analysis of the information.

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