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How to protect your privacy from marketing firms when using your mobile phone

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Anytime you use your mobile phone or log onto your computer, you are giving away tons of personal information. In fact, retailers and marketers are gathering more data about you than you can imagine.

Reporter Jenny Dean shows you how they're capitalizing off you and how you can protect your privacy.

When you go online, marketers and retailers are tracking you. Your email, what you like on Facebook and especially when and where you're spending money.

"All of those things are looked at and put into a digital profile of you as a consumer," said Robert Hooker, USF Marketing Professor.

If you go to your local Target, then download their app to get a coupon, they just got all kinds of information about you. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

"They want all of that shopping information, all that demand information so they can provide the best possible product to the right consumers," said Professor Hooker.

And the more we look for the best deal... the more information we are giving away.

USF Marketing Professor Robert Hooker says the first place you'll notice this type of tracking... Facebook.

"Don't be surprised if you log on to Facebook later and you're seeing advertisements for things that you've purchased because they're pulling, they're looking at your interests," said Professor Hooker.

That may seem harmless, but think about the locator on your cell phone. The same one you use to get directions allows marketers to track you.

"They're collecting all kinds of information that they may not even have a use for yet, but they'll figure it out," said professor Hooker.

Freaked out now? The good news, there are ways to protect yourself, but you'll have to sacrifice convenience and coupons. First... stop giving out your contact information to anyone who asks for it.

"Because once you provide them that information you provide them the right to use it for marketing purposes," said Sri Sridharan, Florida Center for Cybersecurity.

Second... Read the fine print and know exactly what your mobile provider is doing with your information.

"It'll say that we reserve the right to sell aggregated marketing information," said Sridharan.

Third... clear your internet history regularly.

"Don't leave it on there because that can be accessed too," said Sridharan.

Fourth... use ad blocking on your phone. You should be able to find that in your settings under privacy.

And finally, turn off your phone locator, wifi and blue tooth when you're not using them.

"People are lazy not to do that, they leave wifi on, they leave blue tooth on, they leave GPS on and then they complain about being tracked," said Sridharan.

There's no way to completely stop the flow of information ... but you can be smarter about when and how you're giving it away.

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