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Related: PayPal tracking as explained in PayPal's Own User Privacy Policy

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  • Related: PayPal tracking as explained in PayPal's Own User Privacy Policy

    We all know about the basics for how PayPal (and Ebay) track you: similar contact information (such as name, address, telephone, email, etc.), bank accounts, credit cards.

    We also know about how they track you on your computer, using IP address, cookies and flash objects.

    But, does PayPal's own Privacy Policy (updated April 1, 2012), shed any more light on this?

    The relevant sections are noted below:

    How we collect information about you
    When you visit the PayPal website or use the PayPal Services or PayPal application, we collect information sent to us by your computer, mobile phone or other access device. This information may include your IP address, device information including but not limited to identifier, name and type, operating system, location, mobile network information and standard web log information, such as your browser type, traffic to and from our site and the pages you accessed on our website.

    Now what does this mean? Well besides the standard IP address - we know that - it also tells us that PP keeps track of what browser we are using. Now, is using the same exact browser, which I recommend actually for reasons that are critical to staying under the radar (see the Short List) enough to link us? No, not in a vacuum - but consider whether using the same browser, same operating system, and same computer might link us IF other factors are present too, such as selling the exact same products.

    If you open an account or use the PayPal Services, we may collect the following types of information:

    Contact information - your name, address, phone, email, Skype ID and other similar information.
    Financial information - the full bank account numbers and/or credit card numbers that you link to your PayPal account or give us when you use the PayPal Services.
    Before permitting you to use the PayPal Services, we may require you to provide additional information we can use to verify your identity or address or manage risk, such as your date of birth, social security number or other information. We may also obtain information about you from third parties such as credit bureaus and identity verification services.

    Okay, nothing new there - name, address, phone, email - but note that they also collect your Skype ID.

    When you use the PayPal Services, we collect information about your transactions and your other activities on our website, application or when using the PayPal Services and we may collect information about your computer or other access device for fraud prevention purposes.
    You may choose to provide us with access to certain personal information stored by third parties such as social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter). The information we have access to varies by site and is controlled by your privacy settings on that site and your authorization. By associating an account managed by a third party with your PayPal account and authorizing PayPal to have access to this information, you agree that PayPal may collect, store and use this information in accordance with this Privacy Policy.

    Obviously, don't ever even THINK about giving them access to any social media sites, unless you want to worry about keeping those media site pages from being linked to other social media site pages, too.

    In order to help protect you from fraud and misuse of your personal information, we may collect information about your use and interaction with our website, application or the PayPal Services. For example, we may evaluate your computer, mobile phone or other access device to identify any malicious software or activity that may affect the availability of the PayPal Services.

    So ostensibly to avoid "fraud" and protect you from "misuse" (that's a laugh, in that it is PayPal that often misuses us, not the other way around) PayPal is collecting as much information about us as possible.

    Finally, we may collect additional information from or about you in other ways such as contacts with our customer support team or results when you respond to a survey and from interactions with members of the eBay Inc. corporate family, and from other companies.

    Aha! so when you phone in, they can track you too, which is why the Short List advises you to never phone to PP to an 800 # (they do have an 800# for example, to activate your PP debit card, and there is no way, even if you block caller ID, to avoid release of your phone number when you call a toll free line), and if you do phone them phone in to a non-toll free number only, from a caller ID blocked phone.

    And, obviously, don't EVER respond to those surveys, unless you have your anti-tracking tactics all in place, and, I would add, a good REASON to answer the survey, such as blowing off steam for having been molested by PayPal.

    How we use cookies
    When you access our website or content or use our application or the PayPal Services, we or companies we work with, may place small data files called cookies or pixel tags on your computer or other device. We use these technologies to recognize you as a PayPal customer, customize the PayPal Services, content and advertising, measure promotional effectiveness, collect information about your computer or other access device to mitigate risk, help prevent fraud and promote trust and safety.

    We use both session and persistent cookies when you access our website or content. Session cookies expire and no longer have any effect when you log out of your account or close your browser. Persistent cookies remain on your browser until you erase them or they expire.

    We also use Local Shared Objects, commonly referred to as “Flash cookies”, to help ensure that your account security is not compromised, to spot irregularities in behavior to help prevent fraud and to support our sites and services.

    So they track us with cookies, flash objects (we know about them),
    Recognizing your computer via cookies? IP? Flash Objects (LSOs)? - Free EBAY, PayPal, Business and Law Forums - Ebay Suspension, PayPal Limited
    and also pixel tags - which are known as web beacons.
    Web beacons and your IP address? - Free EBAY, PayPal, Business and Law Forums - Ebay Suspension, PayPal Limited
    As long as you delete your cookies (which are associated with web beacons anyway) and flash objects, such as by the methods outlined in the Short List, you will be fine. The Short List also recommends a couple of other settings in your main browser to avoid being tracked by what is called Authenticated Sessions, which is referred to in PayPal's user agreement indirectly by the reference to "session" cookies.

    We encode our cookies so that only we can interpret the information stored in them. You are free to decline our cookies if your browser or browser add-on permits, but doing so may interfere with your use of our website. The help section of most browsers or browser add-ons provides instructions on blocking, deleting or disabling cookies.

    You may encounter PayPal cookies or pixel tags on websites that we do not control. For example, if you view a web page created by a third party or use an application developed by a third party, there may be a cookie or pixel tag placed by the web page or application. Likewise, these third parties may place cookies or pixel tags that are not subject to our control and the PayPal Privacy Policy does not cover their use.

    Yikes! Be careful, there may be PP cookies or web beacons on sites that PP does not control - sites other than, in other words. This is why you MUST check and delete all cookies, flash objects, authenticated sessions and site settings both BEFORE AND AFTER using PayPal (or Ebay) on your computer.

    How we use the personal information we collect
    Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a secure, smooth, efficient, and customized experience. We may use your personal information to:

    provide the PayPal Services and customer support you request;
    process transactions and send notices about your transactions;
    resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
    prevent potentially prohibited or illegal activities, and enforce our User Agreement;
    customize, measure, and improve the PayPal Services and the content and layout of our website and applications;
    deliver targeted marketing, service update notices, and promotional offers based on your communication preferences;
    compare information for accuracy and verify it with third parties.

    "Prevent potentially prohibited or illegal activities, and enforce our User Agreement" - these are two catch-alls which mean, essentially, that PP will use this information in any way they see fit - including to make sure you do not create any new accounts once they have booted you off.

    Note also that:

    How we share personal information with other parties
    We may share your personal information with:

    Members of the eBay Inc. corporate family -- like eBay, or Bill Me Later, Inc.-- to provide joint content, products and services (like registration, transactions and customer support), to help detect and prevent potentially illegal acts and violations of our policies, and to guide decisions about their products, services and communications. Members of our corporate family will use this information to send you marketing communications only if you have requested their services.

    Ah, as we have known for years, Ebay and PayPal are ONE, and anything one learns will be shared with the other. So, be sure to follow the same rules and avoid linking one set of Ebay/PayPal accounts, with another.

    How you can restrict PayPal from sharing your personal information
    Federal and state laws allow you to restrict the sharing of your personal information in certain instances. However, these laws also state that you cannot restrict other types of sharing. Because we have chosen to refrain from certain types of data sharing, the only type of sharing of your personal information that you may restrict is as follows:

    If you do not want PayPal to share your personal information with eBay companies for the purpose of marketing their products or with other financial institutions for the purpose of marketing our jointly offered products to you, please log in to your account and uncheck the box in the Information Sharing section of the Notifications and Information Sharing page. This page can be accessed by going to the Profile subtab under the My Account tab.

    You can also control how we use your contact information to market the PayPal Services to you in the notifications preferences.

    Well, that's no much help, but I do recommend that you uncheck that box. At worst, it will prevent sales contact calls or emails. Note that checking the box will stop them from sharing the information "for the purpose of marketing their products" - doesn't mean they won't share the information for the purpose of nailing you for that catch-all "fraud."

    In sum, whatever PayPal does to track us is all out there - written plainly into their user agreement (although, they kept the tracking by "flash objects" from direct mention until this most recent version of their privacy policy. Just be aware that besides the obvious, that PayPal does keep track of which exact browser, computer operating system and type of computer (MAC or PC), you are using. Does it know which exact computer you are on? Apparently not, or else anyone of us (including me) who accessed multiple Ebay and PayPals on the same computer would already be linked, and I haven't had an Ebay or PayPal account closed in many years - BUT, just be aware, that if you do get shut down, consider that with these few pieces of linking information - same browser (same version of browser), same operating system and same type of computer, PLUS other linking information such as selling the exact same products, you may be linked and shut down, even though you are careful to avoid linkage with everything else we know about.

    Good luck with staying under the PayPal radar.
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