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Don’t let them track your texts

Don’t let them track your texts

Keep this in mind: They can track your texts, too. Texting may feel private—just a little typed out conversation between you and a friend for your and their eyes only. Would that it were so. Your text chains contain mountains of information about you and your habits and preferences. It’s valuable, which means someone out there wants it. At times, they get it.

Ever visit a website to browse some products only to then be bombarded by the same company’s ads on a social media platform? That’s tracking. It’s annoying and feels like an invasion of our online privacy. In response, you batten the technological hatches, scrubbing your cache, erasing cookies and all the rest. And yet, the ads keep appearing, always eerily related to whatever you’ve had on your mind. How?

The companies that gather data on all of us can—and have—cull information from your texts.

We send a lot of personal information through SMS. We talk about dinner plans, when we’re meeting friends at the movies, and about going shopping. All this information doesn’t just go away after you hit the delete button. Companies are gaining access to this data and tracking you to further market and promote their products and services.

How they track

Cellular carriers can see what messages you send through SMS. Normally, this data is collected and stored in their networks for law enforcement or legal purposes. However, it was reported that several major cellular carriers were selling this information to aggregators. This is how they track your texts.

Aggregators are companies that purchase this data information. Then the aggregator can post this information online for people and businesses to see and use for their own purposes.

The cellular companies promised not to sell this data to aggregators anymore. Unfortunately, companies still had access to this data. In 2020, the cellular carriers were fined by the FCC for these breaches in consumer privacy.

What can you do about it?

Always understand that SMS does not have end-to-end encryption to keep your personal information safe. It’s very easy for hackers to access the texts by impersonating you, doing scams against you or the cellular company, or simply going to an aggregator website that already has your information from a cellular carrier.

The best way to protect your messages—and stop anyone who wants to track your texts—is to use and encrypted texting app. Also important to remember: don’t share your identifiable information. Never place your social security number, home address, or bank information into a text message. If you need to send this information to someone, use other means.

Give the persona a call or use a messaging app that has encrypted security. Then you know that your privacy is protected from companies that don’t have permission to access your personal information.