The Private NSA: See What Acxiom Knows About You

How to view your Acxiom profile

How to view your Acxiom profile

Acxiom's public portal is available at www.aboutthedata.com/portal.

To access your account for the first time, you'll need to enter your first and last name, your address, your birthdate, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your email address and a Captcha.

On subsequent sign-ins, all you need is your email address and the last four digits of your SSN.

Once you're signed in, you can view data in six categories: Characteristic, Home, Vehicle, Economic, Shopping and Household Interests.

Characteristic data includes basic information such as age, gender, ethnicity, education and marital status. Here's Acxiom's Characteristic profile on me:

It's interesting to see what Acxiom gets right and what it gets wrong. I am indeed a college graduate, and I often work from home (that's what SOHO means), but I've never even enrolled in graduate school, and I am not married.

The other sections of the website are based on household, not on individuals, so depending on what address you gave when you signed up and what the rest of your family does online, you may see mixed results. I put in the address where I grew up and where my parents still live, for example, so based on that information, Acxiom's profile thinks I have a lot more money than I actually do.

The Household Interests section is also, as the name suggests, based largely on address instead of individual, which means that not all the Interests that AboutTheData lists for me necessarily apply.

I do not, for example, buy fishing, golf or gardening products, but people in my family do.

The parts of my profile that I can view on AboutTheData may be generalized and in some cases not applicable to me, but that doesn't mean that the profile that Acxiom sells to its marketing partners is similarly incomplete. The AboutTheData portal gives you only a selective view of your Acxiom profile, so it's likely that Acxiom actually knows that I don't buy golf or gardening products. Acxiom probably also has more detailed information on my interests than is currently reflected in AboutTheData.

For example, compare my Acxiom profile's listed interests to the one Google has on me:

These results are based on my personal browsing history, not my purchasing history or that of my family, and are much more accurate to my professional and personal interests.

Almost all of the information on Acxiom's AboutTheData website is editable. Adding information and removing erroneous entries will help Acxiom's partners deliver more individualized marketing data to you.  

You cannot, however, edit your address after entering it when you first registered. If you change addresses, and your online information changes to reflect that, then Acxiom will eventually change the address it has on your profile.

You can also opt out of Acxiom profiling entirely by clicking the "Opt out" link on the AboutTheData home page. Acxiom does its best to discourage you from doing this, warning that "you will see more generic ads."

All told, the information available on AboutTheData is considerable. However, on its marketing services page, Acxiom claims to have even more data to offer its advertising partners, including information on individuals' media consumption, occupation, social causes and "explicit and implicit preferences."

The full list of what Acxiom calls "Multidimensional Insight" can be found on its website.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • derekullo
    I love the "give us your information so we can tell you how much information we have on you" thing they have going
  • mouse24
    Quote:
    To access your account for the first time, you'll need to enter your first and last name, your address, your birthdate, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your email address and a Captcha.


    Uh, how about no.
  • TeraMedia
    If they want the last four of my SSN, then they need to prove to me that they already have my SSN. Same goes with the other data.

    I wish sites like this would do a double-sided challenge-and-response type of authentication instead of this overbearing "give us everything and we'll let you know if we agree that you are who you say you are - or not. And we'll keep any information you've given us during the process."

    For example, if my SSN was 123-45-6789, then they could say something like "give us the 4th digit of your SSN, to which I reply "4", along with a request that THEY give the 8th digit (which I would choose out of the remaining digits). If either side messes up, then authentication has failed. And chances of a site correctly guessing more than 2 digits drops off fast enough to keep most crooks at bay.

    Or, if they need the SSN for identification, then they could use some of the other information such as birthdate and name to prove that they already have your data, instead of only for authentication of you.

    Or, pass a token from the "annualcreditreport.com" website or whatever it is that verifies that I have authenticated for my SSN, and force these guys to prove that they know my name.

    Congress is not helping us with any of this, of course. And they could. They just choose not to.
  • The_Trutherizer
    "Access your account"

    What bloody "account"? It's a freaking dossier or a record; not an account. I never opened an account. Never subscribed to anything. Some lazy ahole who can't think of honest ways to earn money opened a so called "account" for me.

    Call it what it is douche bags.

    Nobody would have minded if they just tried to collect geographic interests. Like the people in this or that city like falafel, but they just had to damn well go and be evil about it.