Heed the Four Commandments of Privacy (Or Suffer the Consequences)
It’s no secret that customer data is the lifeblood of the catalog and direct marketing industry. But the very fact that you deal in so much data has become the stuff of nightmares for those consumers who fear their information may be improperly used, lost or stolen. David Holtzman, former security analyst and author of “Privacy Lost: How Technology is Endangering Your Privacy,” offers the following four commandments of privacy that will help you allay the fears of your customers and be good stewards of the information you collect.
1. Thou shall not spy on me just because you can. There’s no reason to collect more information than you can use to adequately market to your customers. If you don’t need a birth date or Social Security number, then don’t ask for them.
2. Thou shall erase my data. Don’t excessively hoard customer information, Holtzman writes. “Most of the damage to privacy comes from stored information, and if personal information isn’t retained, then harm can be limited.” While keeping customer information on file for years is par for the course for direct marketers, be reasonable. If the data is too old to use, dispose of it properly.
3. Thou shall keep my information to thyself. If you say you aren’t going to share customer data, then don’t. And if you’re sharing customer data, do so through secure and legitimate channels.
4. Thou shall protect my data like it were thy own. “Failure to protect information through sloppy data handling can easily lead to the sin of identity theft,” Holtzman notes.
For a copy of Holtzman’s book, “Privacy Lost: How Technology is Endangering Your Privacy,” (Jossey-Bass, $24.95) visit http://www.josseybass.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0787985112.html