College Sells Alumni Information to Credit Card Companies

April 10, 2008

I’ve written in the past how I’ve recieved applications from credit card companies for a card that’s branded with my college name and logo.  I can only assume that someone in the university finance department is looking for ways to bring in more money and decided to cash in on their alumni database.  I’m not sure if they’re paid for each name & address they give the credit card company or maybe it’s only for people that actually sign up.

However it works, I’m not happy that they’re selling my information to credit card companies.  Just yesterday I got the email below asking me to update my alumni information. (Obviously the caps and bold words have been changed to protect the innocent.) 

There’s no way I’m updating my information with them so they can just turn around and sell it to someone else.  If I had more time on my hands and was feeling devious, I could look up the address of the head of the college finance department and update my record with their information so they’d start getting the junk mail instead of me.

Verification of
Alumni Information

Please click here in the next 10 days to verify alumni information for:

Dear Ben ALUM,

I asked our manager of alumni records to assemble your Alumni Data by cross-referencing the most recent information in your XYZ UNIVERSITY file.

But now I need your help.

Please take 30 seconds to look over the information currently reflected in your streamlined Data Verification Form. (This convenient online form is fully-encrypted using state-of-the-art technology to protect your personal information.)

XYZ UNIVERSITY analyzed the records of more than 26,200 alumni to separate outdated contact and alumni information from the most current data in our files.

Now I need your confirmation of the information listed in this file.

Please review your online Verification Form in the next 10 days. Thank you in advance for your assistance in this important matter.




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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Responses to College Sells Alumni Information to Credit Card Companies

  • lu3

    There are probably two things going on here: 1) Many colleges provide that updated information to publishing companies who then prepare directories of alumni and then market them (at ridiculously high prices) to other alumni (most likely sharing the profits with the university).
    2) When you receive credit card applications for university-affiliated cards, a small percentage of every purchase made with the card gets rebated to the university — so the university gets a long-term (albeit small) donation relationship with you.

    In either case, the university is making money on the deal.


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