Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


7 Tips to Protect Your Online Identity While Shopping

Why Amazon thinks I'm peeing in my pants.

Do you know about customer profiling? This means that when you buy something, or just click on an item, that information about you is sent to… I’m not sure, but EVERYONE! Internet companies are tracking your every click, gathering personal information about you, and getting a lot of it WRONG. Here’s a DISASTER STORY about how online shopping can go so HORRIBLY wrong and 7 EASY TIPS on how to stop online companies from tracking you and protect your identity.

Okay, for a while, customer profiling seemed convenient. After I bought a cappuccino machine, Amazon suggested cups I might like, beans and a steamer. Click!

I bought a DVD player and the next day I opened my Amazon page to see, “Judy… you might want some cables and DVDs to go with your new DVD player.” Click. Click.

A few weeks ago, I was going camping in Yosemite and bought some of these bags that you pee in and it turns your pee to jello. No joke. Travel John Disposable Urinal (6 pack). It’s fantastic when you don’t want to leave your tent in the middle of the night and risk getting attacked by a bear. You pee into this female friendly device, and since your pee instantly turns into a solid, there is no spill, no mess, you go right back to sleep.

This is when things took a turn for the worse.

Apparently, Amazon concluded that I’m incontinent, or as they say on TV commercials, that I “have a GOING problem,” because when I open Amazon, it reads, “Judy… if you liked Disposable Urinals, you might try Adult Diapers.” It’s not that I have an untarnished image, but it gets worse. Amazon must have spread this MIS-INFORMATION to Google as the ad on the Wall Street Journal site is no longer for sexy thongs being sold by Victoria’s Secret and is targeting me for “Sani-Pant Reusable Plastic Pants.”

It doesn’t stop there. On the TMZ site, the ad has changed from vibrators to “Wet-Stop Bedwetting Alarm with Sound and Vibration.” Victoria must be the only one who can keep a secret, and because of one weekend camping trip, the whole world now thinks I’m getting wet…and NOT in a sexy way.

I’d never have guessed how many gadgets and items there are for incontinence. It makes me wonder. Are all the baby boomers peeing in their pants or are they just lazy? Is my generation wearing adult Pampers just to stay all day on the golf course? “Look Bob, I’m peeing AND putting.”

I was finding this a little amusing so I didn’t write to Amazon to let them know I am NOT peeing in my pants, well, except for that one huge laugh during “Louie.”

But this morning, it stopped being a joke. My neighbor, Kara, told me she’d gone onto the Amazon site and tried to write a review for my book, The Message of You, but they REFUSED to let her. She emailed to ask about it and Amazon wrote back, “You can’t write a review because YOU KNOW JUDY.”

What?! How do they know that? Has Amazon replaced the NSA as the world’s largest collector of personal information? What’s the takeaway from this? I’m worried that all my appliances are being monitored by Amazon, especially my Japanese Toto electronic toilet, which knows my most personal habits. Can you have a toilet sign a confidentiality clause?

The good news is that you can put a stop to this.
Here are 7 tips to stop advertisers from tracking you:

1. How to Get Info About Who is Tracking You
Want to know who is tracking you? Go to the Digital Advertising Alliance site to find out. I had 159 companies tracking me. I wish I had been this popular in high school! At this site you can easily opt out of being tracked by simply clicking on boxes.

2. How to Change your Browser Privacy Settings
Your internet browser has “Do Not Detect” settings and this site will tell you how to turn OFF tracking in your browser.

3. How to Stop Amazon From Tracking You
Here are step-by-step directions to prevent Amazon from tracking your every click.

4. How to Stop Google From Tracking You on the Web
Google actually has a page for advertisement settings. Go there and see what they know about you. It’s shocking – they added two years to my age! You can go there and opt out of ads. But, even if you do that, Google's advertising cookie is still tracking you. To remove it, head to the Advertising cookie opt-out page and click “download the cookie opt-out plugin.” This will make the tracking stop so you can pretend you’re in your 30s again.

5. How to Stop Facebook From Tracking You
Facebook has a new, very aggressive cookie that will monitor you even when you are NOT logged onto FB. Changing your privacy settings in FB doesn’t stop this. What you can do is download “Facebook Privacy List.” This protects your privacy by blocking Facebook plugins when you visit non-Facebook websites. It works along with Adblock Plus. Here is a good article on how to do this.

6. Download an Ad Blocker Program
Adblock Plus is a free program that you can download to stop ads for any browser. You will need this program for the “Facebook Privacy List” to work.

7. Shop at Brick and Mortar Stores
The people who work there don’t care about customers. Maybe that’s a good thing. Although…I’ve been warned if they seem to be talking on the phone while they’re processing your credit card, they may be stealing your identity. Of course, anyone stealing my identity will have to deal with all the incontinence stuff.

About the Author
Judy Carter

Judy Carter, is the author of The Message of You and The Comedy Bible. She speaks and writes on finding happiness when you're stressed and broke.

More from Judy Carter
More from Psychology Today
More from Judy Carter
More from Psychology Today