07/03/2013 01:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

9 Creepy Things Companies May Know About You

Companies have been quick to distance themselves from recent revelations surrounding the National Security Agency's collection of phone and Internet records. But in many cases, the private sector is working just as hard to obtain information about you -- yes, you! Here are some of the things they could potentially figure out:

1.Target May Know When You're Pregnant

target logo

In 2012, the retailer made headlines for monitoring customer spending habits so effectively that it accurately guessed when a woman was pregnant.

2. Big Box Retailers May Know How Much Money You Make

staples store

Staples and Home Depot have been found to vary the price of their online products based on personal information obtained about the customer (such as annual income). Surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal discovered that discounted prices were more frequently seen in areas of the country that had a higher average income.

3. Some May Know Your Next Move Before You Do

people walking city

Multinational security firm Raytheon created software that not only tracks people's moves, but also predicts where they'll go next. The future is now, people!

4. Your Boss Could Know You Were At The Beach On Your Sick Day

on the beach

Employers in some states can legally use the GPS in your company cell phone to track your every move. So if you're playing hooky, leave the iPhone at home.

5. Thousands Of Companies Know About All The Embarrassing Things You Order In The Mail

getting the mail

More than 100,000 companies share large mailing list databases -- with more than a billion names -- so that they can more effectively target customers most likely to buy certain products. Among that sensitive information? Previous mail-orders placed by a particular person.

6. Google Could Know You're Shopping For That Wedding At Work


Google has been discovered to track the web-browsing habits of its users in order to more effectively place advertisements.

7. Your Facebook Apps May Know You're Gay

facebook app

The Wall Street Journal last year found that many Facebook applications, including Skype and Yahoo!, were pulling sensitive information -- such as one's religion, political views and sexual preference -- and using it to their benefit.

8. Your Phone Carrier Knows About Your Secret Web Browsing


Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all used aggregated customer information based on gender, age and browsing history to help target ads, according to a 2011 report.

9. And Your Boss Knows About The Trouble You're Having At Home

secret phone call

Some employers have been found to record conversations inside and outside the workplace on company devices. So when you're talking to a significant other, watch what you say.



11 Companies With Bad Reputations