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Geolocation Technologies Are Not Scary and Here’s Why

Why shouldn't you be afraid of geolocation?

"The reports of [geolocation being scary] are greatly exaggerated." It is only fitting to repurpose the famous quote from American author Mark Twain when discussing geolocation technologies because the news coverage has not told the full story. With any new technology, there is potential for abuse and deceptive practices, and this is true for geolocation as well.

While the FTC and FCC oversee the privacy regulations for consumer location data, businesses that use geolocation technologies should always be as transparent as possible with customers and end customers. LocationSmart believes privacy, security and transparency are paramount so we developed our cloud-based location platform with comprehensive notification and opt-in/opt-out management capabilities. We also follow CTIA best practices to ensure our business complies with the latest industry privacy standards. 

Geolocation technologies enable a number of critical business functions for a variety of industries from tracking shipments and managing mobile workers to verifying transactions and routing emergency personnel to stranded motorists. In this blog post, we will outline two common examples of how geolocation can be a hero and not the villain. 

Mobile Device Verification vs. Card-Not-Present Fraud

Have you ever received a call or email from your bank asking you to verify a purchase? If yes, then your bank likely uses mobile device verification services to prevent card-not-present (CNP) fraud. This process uses the location of your mobile device as a tool to verify the purchase. If the purchase seems suspect then your bank will get in touch with you to verify the transaction. 

Unfortunately, CNP fraud is a growing problem because businesses are slow to adopt EMV or "chip" card technologies. A study by iovation and the Aite Group estimates that CNP fraud losses will reach $7.2 billion by 2020. Luckily, mobile device verification is one way to help prevent it. 

Identity Confirmation vs. Account Hacking

Cloud services like those offered by Microsoft, Apple and Google enable consumers to access their accounts using nearly any connected device. These companies build unique account profiles for customers based on their activities. Location data from a customer's device - usually IP addresses -  is another key component for account profiles and it is vital for identity confirmation.

Hackers can steal a customer's login information and password but they can be stopped short of their goal if the customer uses two-factor authentication. 

If a company like Apple or Google does not recognize the hacker's device or its location, then the company will halt the login process. Once the device is flagged, the company will then send the customer an email alert and/or SMS message to confirm the new device. The hacker will need access to these messages in order to complete the login process. Identity confirmation using location data is another great tool to protect your sensitive information. This is especially relevant as Yahoo announced that nearly 500 million user accounts were breached in 2014

It behooves everyone to be informed and vigilant when it comes to their privacy in our digital world.