July 2016

3456 789

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Friday, May 16th, 2014 07:26

CW: Brief mention of stalking behaviours.

It seems to be that time of year again where every retail purchase you make comes with a side of "We're doing a survey!!!1 Can we please have your postal code? :D"

Of course, the store is compiling data on where their customers live, and what people who live in each place buy, so they can try to market to you more effectively (iow, more creepily).

I'm not sure everyone's aware of this, but your full postal code gives your home address to a high degree of precision. One postal code represents

  • all houses on one side of one residential street for a block or so, or
  • one high-volume recipient of mail, like an apartment or office building, or
  • in rural areas, a single small village or hamlet.

To put this another way, if you take a look at a postal code directory, the entries in it look something like this:

   D2D 1S1:   Even numbers   38-52 Strange St    Anytown ON
   D2D 1S2:   Odd numbers    53-79 Strange St    Anytown ON
   D2D 1S3:   Even numbers   56-128 Strange St   Anytown ON

   D2D 1X5:                  1000 Charm Ct       Anytown ON

By disclosing your postal code, you're essentially disclosing your home address. Especially from a personal safety perspective, if somebody knows your postal code and what you look like, they can almost certainly find you and your residence.

Now, given how personal this snippet of information is, you might not feel comfortable giving it away. If so, you can spread some holiday cheer and test their computing systems at the same time! Just tell them your postal code is:

H0H 0H0

...which is the code for Santa Claus' workshop at the North Pole.

Just think! As the poor statistics sorters sift through mounds of boring data, their faces will no doubt brighten as they see that Jolly Old St Nick's helpers were indeed busily working their way through the stores, stocking up on goodies for the holiday season. Just Imagine the glow on executives' faces when they see in the reports before them incontrovertible evidence that Santa's elves have been hard at work all year picking up toys, toasters, and tequila for good little children to find under the tree on Christmas Day. ^_^

Friday, May 16th, 2014 21:55 (UTC)
Postal codes in Canada are far more specific than in the U.S. Damn.
Saturday, May 17th, 2014 19:24 (UTC)
Yeah, my mom moved four miles away (in the same town in Montana) and still has the same postal code. It's really eerie to think of it being that precise! (Though ZIP+4 is about as specific as Canadian postal codes apparently are, but nowhere that's asked me for zip code has even been able to accept the last four digits, even if I knew what the last four for my address were.)
Sunday, May 18th, 2014 19:47 (UTC)
Yeah, it's disconcerting when a website 'corrects' my address like that. But then, they already have the rest of my address, so knowing the +4 doesn't give them anything they didn't already have. Radio Shack (e.g.), on the other hand, really doesn't even need ZIP, and I would be really disconcerted if they asked for +4. (I have been tempted to give a Montana postal code just to mess with statistics.)
Saturday, May 17th, 2014 03:30 (UTC)
Doing this from now on! :D

I'm not too concerned about privacy, I just don't see why some are so insistent on it.
cme: The outline of a seated cat woodburnt into balsa (Default)
[personal profile] cme
Monday, May 19th, 2014 06:47 (UTC)
I would just like to say <3 :)