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Consumer Reports experts share the trade-off for the convenience of online shopping

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The holiday shopping season has started and more and more shoppers are spending their money online instead of in-store.

Of course, yesterday was Cyber Monday with many retailers offering special deals and sales online. But as you’re going to these different sites in search of those perfect gifts, be aware that these sites many not only be getting your money, they may also be collecting your personal data and selling it.

Shopping for the holidays has never been easier. Just grab your phone and with a few clicks and swipes, you can find the perfect presents for your loved ones.

But Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter Brian Vines warns, sometimes there’s a trade-off for that convenience.

“If you have an account with an e-tailer, or if you use apps and sites that require logging in, some companies might keep files on you and even sell your information to data brokers, which are businesses that collect your personal data and sell it to other parties.” Vines said.

So, what’s the danger in that?

“The problem is you don’t know what these companies are doing with your data,” Vines explained. “Some might have location data on you, which could hypothetically be used to see where you worship, where you protest or who else you spend your time with.”

But limiting the use of personal data and trying to take back control of it isn’t easy. It’s often a manual process that’s tedious and time consuming unless you use something called an authorized agent.

“Several states have passed laws that allow consumers to designate a third party to make data requests on their behalf – like Incogni, Mine, Yorba, and even Consumer Reports,” he said.

Consumer Report’s Permission Slip is a new free app that provides information on how more than 100 companies use your personal information, and lets you request that they stop selling it, or that they delete it.

“Companies typically have 45 days to respond to opt out request, and sometimes longer,” Vines said.

With these new tools in hand, you and your data can feel safer shopping around this holiday season.

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