(NBC News) People will be spending more this year on Valentine’s Day according to the National Retail Federation, and many will be buying gifts online.
If you live with your Valentine or share a device with them, you might ruin the surprise without even realizing it.
Whenever you shop online companies are watching, and tracking every click.
“It’s actually a pretty simple technology it’s called a cookie,” explains Private.me digital security architect David Lam. “It’s not something you eat it’s a little file. It stores who you are and it knows where you’ve been.”
Lam says companies use this data for targeted advertising, so when you do find that perfect valentine’s gift it may find you again on other websites.
“You don’t have to buy, you don’t have to click on anything, all you have to do is go to a webpage,” Lam warns.
Simply viewing that page can trigger an onslaught of ads.
“If you share a device with your partner, these re-targeting ads really could ruin he surprise of your Valentine’s Day gift,” warns NBCNews.com tech editor Julianne Pepitone.
If you do share a tablet or computer with that special someone, try using an alternative browser.
You can also go into a browser’s settings and clear the cookies and the search history.
“The other thing you can do is you can go into what is called an incognito mode,” Lam advises.
That’s a private browsing setting that most browsers have to avoid tracking activity.
Also be careful with web pages linked to your store accounts. They’ll often suggest items or show recent views.