Credit Card TrapI love putting things on credit and debit cards. It’s more convenient than dealing with change and ATM trips, and it organizes my business expenses for tax purposes at the end of the year.

But, when I go through my statements at year-end to find tax deductable expenses, I find that I can basically pinpoint exactly where I was for pretty much every day of the year based on my purchases. In addition to the location information, credit card companies have detailed information on your spending patterns.

Will your credit card company sell your spending pattern data? Who knows, but when last year during my deposition for my lawsuit against stop-and-frisk, the attorney for the city asked me to list my credit cards, it became abundently clear that all of this data is just waiting to be abused. (The idea that someone suing the city for abuse should have to bend over and expose his private information in order to have a shot at justice is offensive and wrong, but I digress…)

So, I shall endeavor to use cash whenever possible (tomorrow’s post will allow you to keep your privacy for those when times cash is not an option). To keep track of business expenses, I’ll be using my smartphone to take a picture of receipts rather than holding onto crumpled up, faded pieces of paper. And I’ll save my local small businesses the ~3% they pay to run credit cards rather than see that money go to the banks. Win win win.


This is one of a 30-part series, “No Surveillance State Month,” where daily for the month of June I’ll be posting ways to avoid invasion of your privacy in the digital age. The intent of these posts is not to enable one to escape detection while engaging in criminal activity — there’s still the old-fashioned “send a detective to watch you” for which these posts will not help. Rather, this series will help you to opt-out of the en masse collection of data by the government and large corporations that places Americans in databases without their knowing and freely-given consent for indefinite time periods. We all have the right to privacy, and I hope you demand it.