If you want to believe in goodness, then those companies did that because they were already sending mail to everyone, they might as well kill two birds with one stone.
If you want to believe in the sneaky weaselness of corporations then they probably did that because they knew you would be focused on getting your 1099 and would set everything else aside only to forget about it.
Is it a big deal? Not really, except the whole privacy thing was a big deal a few years ago, and Congress and other politicians made a loud noise about how they were going to help consumers by passing a comprehensive privacy law. Well, they did, but chances are nothing has changed for 99% of Americans.
One of the notices I got says “This notice tells you how we collect, handle, and disclose personal information about you. If you want to limit our disclosing this information, please see…” with directions on where to look. Is this is in big bold letters? Is it easy to tell from opening the envelope that this is something I should be reading and deciding about? Nope. In fact, the front page talks about how great the company is and how much they value my trust. Inside on the second page is the part where they let me know what this is all about. Of course, how many people have already thrown it in the recycle bin by then?
According to this company’s statement the collect my usual personal information, plus information about my transactions and payments and my credit report and credit score. They can disclose all of this information to “affiliates and nonaffilitated parties” including “companies engaged in direct marketing and the selling of consumer products and services”. Yeah! So basically, not only can any of their subsidiary companies find out whatever they want about me, they can sell all my information to mailing list companies as well.
So, how do I get out of having some corporation sell all my personal details to anyone willing to cough up the cash? Well, there is a form. I have to fill it out and mail it in. Pre-paid envelope? You wish. How about a way to do it online or over the phone? Nope. Oh, and here is the big kicker: “If you are also a customer of other Company X affiliates you will also recieve a notice of their intent to share information…you will need to separately notify them if you don’t wish to share information.”
So, there you have it. When it comes to sharing my intimate personal details in this age of rampant identity theft, they can and will share my info all day long with their affiliates and their non-affiliates. But, when I want to notify them I no longer wish for them to share my information with others, well, that is something they WON’T share.
Thanks for nothing Corporation X. Thanks for nothing Congress. And, thanks for nothing my fellow Americans silently falling for the tricks the other sheep fall for.