Tell your phone company to stop selling your personal data (and why you should care)

Your telephone company sells your personal data. However, there are ways to protect yourself.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Similar to web companies like Facebook and Google, the major telephone operators collect your data to sell advertisements. It’s the kind of practice most of us hastily parade because, well, who has the time to read the privacy policy details for each service you sign up for?

It turns out that CNET does. Here’s what we found in details and what you can do about it.

AT&T, T Mobile and Verizon track your location, web activity, and app usage. They also collect social security numbers, photographs, and social media activity. AT&T even collects users biometric data such as fingerprints, according to the carrier’s privacy policy – although “until the initial purpose of collection is met or within three years of the individual’s last interaction with AT&T, whichever occurs first “.

Operators use personal information to improve the customer experience, in accordance with their privacy policies, and to sell targeted advertising. But you can prevent your data from being sold, and some operators even offer ways to delete data they’ve already collected on you. However, not all data can be deleted, as each carrier declares to keep part of it for billing purposes and legal obligations.

Controlling personal data collected or stored by a carrier could protect you and your loved ones from data breach, which could compromise things like your bank account or your credit. And with a chain of high-profile data breaches in 2021 alone, including one at T Mobile, the risk is real. So here’s how to better control your personal data, regardless of the mobile operator you use.

Important Note: Even if you choose not to sell your data, you will continue to receive advertisements. They just won’t be right for you and your interests, and some services might not work as well.

AT&T

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AT&T collects biometric data from its customers as well as other personal data.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Here’s how AT&T customers can stop the carrier from selling their data:

1. Log in to your AT&T account from a browser.

2. Go to this control panel.

3. At the bottom there is a section called Control how we use your data. Click on each option and toggle At Where Deactivated for the phone numbers on your account. Each phone number can be enabled or disabled and it will not affect other phone numbers in your account.

Customers who live in California and Nevada have it easy.

1. Fill in this Don’t sell my data form in a browser.

2. Click on Don’t sell my data Where Do not sell my data except to AT&T companies at the bottom of the page.

AT&T customers in California can also request the deletion of most of their data. However, this does not appear to be available to other AT&T customers.

T Mobile

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T-Mobile customers can use the T-Mobile app or a web browser to tell the operator to stop selling their data.

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For T-Mobile customers, there are two ways you can ask the carrier to stop selling your data. One is done via the T-Mobile mobile app and the other is via your MyT-Mobile Account:

1. Open the T-Mobile app and log in or login to your MyT-Mobile account from a browser.

2. Click on My account.

3. Click on Profile.

4. Click on Confidentiality and notifications.

5. Click on Advertising and analysis.

6. Select your name (or the name of another user in your account) from the list.

seven. Click the slider next to Use my data to make ads more relevant to me to turn it off. You can also click the slider next to Use my data for analysis and reporting to prevent T-Mobile from using your data in marketing reports.

8. If you have more than one T-Mobile user on your account, click Return and repeat the steps 6 and seven.

T-Mobile customers must complete this form to request the deletion of most of their personal data.

Verizon

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Verizon offers two adware programs, but you can opt out of both.

Withdrawing from the sale of customer data by Verizon is a bit confusing. Verizon offers two advertising programs: Customer experience and customer experience more. The main difference is that Customer Experience Plus collects a wider range of data.

Here’s how to tell Verizon to stop selling your data in the Verizon Mobile app:

1. Open the Verizon Mobile app and sign in to your account.

2. Click it Equipment icon to open settings.

3. Below Preferences, Click on Manage privacy settings.

4. Choose the phone line whose privacy you want to manage.

5. Click on Personalized experience to switch Deactivated for each phone number in your account.

6. Click on Personalized experience More to switch Deactivated for each phone number in your account.

seven. Click the back arrow at the top of the screen. Your settings should be saved automatically.

Here’s how to tell Verizon to stop selling your data from a web browser:

1. Go to Verizon.com from any browser and log into your account.

2. Click on Account.

3. To select Account settings.

4. Click on Privacy settings.

5. Click on Personalized experience and set to Do not use for each phone number in your account.

6. Click on Personalized experience More and set to Do not use for each phone number in your account.

seven. Click on Save changes.

However, deleting most of your data through Verizon is a bit more convenient. Here’s how to do it from a mobile:

1. Open the Verizon Mobile app and sign in to your account.

2. Click it Equipment icon to open settings.

3. Below Preferences, Click on Manage privacy settings.

4. Click on Custom experience settings

5. Click on Reset.

And here’s how to delete most of the data Verizon has collected on you from a web browser:

1. Go to Verizon.com from any browser and log into your account.

2. Click on Account.

3. To select Account settings.

4. Click on Privacy settings.

5. Click on Manage settings below Custom experience settings.

6. Click on Reset.

seven. Go back and click Manage settings below Personalized Experiences Plus.

8. Click on Reset.

You can find out more about IPhone Privacy Features Not Many People Know About, Google Chrome and Safari settings to change if you care about privacy and new privacy features coming in the 12gb Android edition.


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