Many individuals opt for mall and supermarket shopping for various goods, including clothing, household items, and appliances. However, a concerning trend has emerged wherein customers are asked to provide their mobile numbers during billing. While most comply, not all are aware of the potential consequences of this action.
Staff at billing counters often persuade customers to share their phone numbers, using various excuses. These contact details are later utilized for unsolicited marketing calls and irrelevant information dissemination, causing inconvenience to consumers. Such practices raise concerns about data misuse and privacy breaches.
A police officer from Mangaluru recounted his experience of receiving marketing calls and emails related to holiday packages and college admissions. Upon investigation, he discovered that his contact details had likely been sold by agents who acquired the data from shopping malls and supermarkets.
Cybersecurity expert Dr. Ananth Prabhu G emphasized the need for caution while sharing personal information. He revealed that businesses employ Artificial Intelligence tools for market basket analysis, profiling customers for targeted promotions. While the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, passed in 2023, aims to safeguard citizens’ privacy, individuals can now refuse data sharing without facing billing restrictions. If supermarkets persist, individuals can lodge complaints with data protection authorities.
Customers are encouraged to exercise their rights and question companies about the necessity and usage of collected data, thereby maintaining control over their personal information.