Your Phone Carrier Is Selling Your Personal Data. Here's How to Tell It to Stop – CNET

Phone carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon collect personal data to sell targeted ads. Here’s how you can stop them from selling your data.
Zachary McAuliffe

Zach is a staff writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services. Prior to joining CNET, he wrote web copy for the television station WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio. When he’s not writing, he’s reading. When he’s not reading, he’s catching up on shows with his wife and their dog.
Your phone carrier is selling your personal data. There are ways to protect yourself, though.
Similar to tech giants like Facebook and Google, major phone carriers collect your personal data to sell targeted ads. It’s the kind of practice most of us hurriedly agree to because, well, who has the time to read through the privacy policy specifics for every service you sign up for? 
As it turns out, CNET does. Here’s what we found in the details and what you can do about it.
Phone carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon track your location, web activity and app usage. They also collect Social Security numbers, photographs and social media activity. AT&T even collects users’ biometric data like fingerprints, according to the carrier’s privacy policy — though only “until the initial purpose for collecting it has been satisfied or within three years of the individual’s last interaction with AT&T, whichever occurs first.”
Carriers use personal information to improve customers’ experience, according to their privacy policies, and to sell targeted ads. A lot of that is information that you wouldn’t necessarily want your phone carrier selling. But you can stop your private data from being sold, and some carriers even offer ways to delete the data they have already collected on you. Not all data can be deleted, though, as each carrier states it keeps some of it for billing purposes and legal obligations.
Controlling what data of yours a carrier is collecting or has stored could protect you and your loved ones from a data breach, which could compromise things like your bank account or credit. And with a string of recent high-profile data breaches, including one at T-Mobile, the risk is real. So here’s how to have more control over your personal data, no matter what mobile carrier you use.
Important note: Even if you choose to not have your data sold, you’ll still receive ads. They just won’t be tailored to you and your interests, and some services might not work as well.
Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.
AT&T collects biometric data from their customers as well as other personal data. 
Here’s how AT&T customers can stop the carrier from selling their data:
1. Log into your AT&T account from a browser. 
2. Go to this control panel
3. At the bottom, there’s a section called Control How We Use Your Data. Click through each option and toggle On or Off for phone numbers on your account. Each phone number can opt in or out and it won’t have an effect on the other phone numbers on your account.
Customers who live in California and Nevada have it easy:
1. Fill out this Do Not Sell My Data form in a browser.
2. Click Do Not Sell My Data or Do Not Sell My Data Except to AT&T Companies at the bottom of the page.
AT&T customers in California can also request most of their data be deleted. This doesn’t seem to be available to other AT&T customers, though.
T-Mobile customers can use the T-Mobile app or a web browser to tell the carrier to stop selling their data.
For T-Mobile customers, you can tell the carrier to stop selling your data one of two ways. One is through the T-Mobile mobile app and the other is through your MyT-Mobile account:
1. Either open the T-Mobile app and sign in or log into your MyT-Mobile account from a browser.
2. Click My Account.
3. Click Profile.
4. Click Privacy and Notifications.
5. Click Advertising and Analytics.
6. Select your name (or the name of another user on your account) from the list.
7. Click the slider next to Use my data to make ads more relevant to me to turn it off. You can also click the slider next to Use my data for analytics and reporting to stop T-Mobile from using your data in marketing reports.
8. If you have multiple T-Mobile users on your account, click Back and repeat steps 6 and 7.
T-Mobile customers must fill out this form to request most of their personal data be deleted.
Verizon has two advertising programs, but you can opt out of them both. 
Opting out of Verizon selling customer data is a little confusing. Verizon has two advertising programs: Customer Experience and Customer Experience Plus. The main difference is Customer Experience Plus collects a broader range of data. 
Here’s how to tell Verizon to stop selling your data in the Verizon Mobile app:
1. Open the Verizon Mobile app and log in to your account.
2. Click the Gear icon to open settings.
3. Under Preferences, click Manage privacy settings.
4. Choose the phone line whose privacy you want to manage.
5. Click Custom Experience to toggle Off for each phone number in your account.
6. Click Custom Experience Plus to toggle Off for each phone number in your account.
7. Click the back arrow at the top of the screen. Your settings should save automatically.
Here’s how to tell Verizon to stop selling your data from a web browser:
1. Go to Verizon.com from any browser and log into your account.
2. Click Account.
3. Select Account Settings.
4. Click Privacy Settings.
5. Click Custom Experience and set to Don’t Use for each phone number in your account. 
6. Click Custom Experience Plus and set to Don’t Use for each phone number in your account.
7. Click Save Changes.
Deleting most of your data through Verizon is a little more hands-on, though. Here’s how to do it from mobile:
1. Open the Verizon Mobile app and log into your account.
2. Click the Gear icon to open settings.
3. Under Preferences, click Manage privacy settings.
4. Click Custom Experience Settings
5. Click Reset.
And here’s how to delete most data Verizon has collected on you from a web browser:
1. Go to Verizon.com from any browser and log into your account.
2. Click Account.
3. Select Account Settings.
4. Click Privacy Settings.
5. Click Manage Settings under Custom Experience Settings.
6. Click Reset.
7. Go back and click Manage Settings under Custom Experiences Plus.
8. Click Reset.
You can learn more about iPhone privacy features not many people know about, Google Chrome and Safari settings to change if you care about privacy and new privacy features coming to Android 12 Go edition.

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