Have you heard of a page in your Google account called “purchases”? If you haven’t, you are not alone. Until as recently as last week, the majority of us were not aware that Google is tracking your online purchases via receipts in your gmail. For many users, they are able to view their purchase history all the way back to at least 2012. While Google insists:
it does raise the question of what other personal information Google is tracking and who has access to it.
Google Purchases Page
Last week, news broke of a page buried in our Google account settings called “Purchases.” It caused a sensation online because most of us didn’t know it was there or that it stores receipts from your online orders.
Receipts are sourced from your Gmail account meaning your list of saved online purchases can be both lengthy and obscure. Users are reporting a whole range of products and services including movie receipts, subscription fees, hotel bookings, food receipts and prescriptions.
Google released a statement insisting the purchases page is purely there to help users “…easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings, and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you,”
So, what’s all the fuss about?
Privacy mainly. If we believe Google, they’re not passing your purchase history on to a third party but that doesn’t mean it’s not at risk from hackers. The purchases page includes a summary of the order as well as the date, and an address if the order was one needing to be delivered.
Therefore, it’s feasible that a cyber criminal could specifically target you with a scam based on the retailers you purchase from and the services you use. Furthermore, it’s fair to say that the average user would not be aware that Google has been, and continues to, collect their receipts.
Can I Turn Google Purchases Off?
Google says yes, you can delete this information at any time. True, you can. But annoyingly if you delete an entry from the purchases page, the receipt is also deleted from your Gmail.
Google also claims that you can turn off the tracking at any time. However, as far as we can see, there doesn’t appear to be a way to fully turn off the tacking. Another promise Google makes is that it doesn’t use your Gmail to show you ads. The question must then be asked – what is the purpose of the purchases page?
“But, for reasons that still aren’t clear, it’s pulling that information out of your Gmail and dumping it into a “Purchases” page most people don’t seem to know exists. Even if it’s not being used for ads, there’s no clear reason why Google would need to track years of purchases and make it hard to delete that information.” – Todd Haselton
Ultimately, purchase data can reveal a lot about a person and ideally, Google should allow users to control purchase tracking by creating an option to completely disable the function.
Nowra Web Design is the leading local digital marketing agency in Nowra. Our team of local website developers and digital marketing strategists can help your business establish a presence online and bring traffic to your site.