Your Personal Data Could Be For Sale In RadioShack Bankruptcy Auction

Have you handed your name, address, e-mail address, or phone number over to RadioShack as part of a purchase or, inexplicably, when you returned an item that you bought with cash? As the bankruptcy auction of the smoldering remains of The Shack continues into its second day, we’ve learned that one of the assets for sale is RadioShack’s customer list, which includes more than 65 million mailing addresses and more than 13 million e-mail addresses. Update: The bankruptcy auction’s privacy ombudsman says that customer information isn’t for sale. Yet.

Sure, many of those customers have most likely moved since they bought that extended warranty on their remote control car back in 2007, but many of them haven’t. Do you expect when handing over your contact information that the company will sell that information eight years later? Maybe you do assume that. We all certainly should.

Bloomberg reports that Standard General, a hedge fund with an almost suspiciously generic name, is the winner of the auction for a little less than half of the chain’s pre-bankruptcy store network, as well as the brand name and other assets at the corporate level.

AT&T has already weighed in on what they think ought to be done with their customer data in RadioShack’s hands, and the state attorneys general of Texas and Tennessee have filed objections to the sale of customer data. (RadioShack is based in Texas.)

RadioShack’s Bankruptcy Could Give Your Customer Data to the Highest Bidder [Bloomberg]

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  1. webalias says:

    I’m not surprised. And I’m reminded that a few years ago, when I returned a defective product to a RadioShack, a sales associate demanded my phone number and other identifying information before he would provide a refund. I said no way — “I don’t want to be in your database.” He said it was store policy. I pointed out that the policy had not been stated at the time of purchase, but RadioShack’s 30-day money back guarantee had been, and I was entitled to my refund in any case. I ended up speaking to a manager, who relented and issued the refund. I wonder how many other phone numbers and email addresses were obtained by RadioShack through this kind of coercion — throughout the company’s refusal to otherwise follow the terms of its own stated return policy. This seems to me to border on fraud.