Saturday, January 09, 2010

Credit card purchase history and predictive modeling

This Reddit Discussion by a credit card Fraud prevention agent is fascinating, worth a read.

Having taken several years of advanced college statistics, I would love to get my hands on Americans credit card histories.

Using data mining techniques you can find out all sorts of important information, but according to the expert it’s over a petabyte (1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) of information and it’s nearly impossible to get access.

There could be some studies on credit card purchasing history, but only in very
strict circumstances. It would take years to get all the permissions, and you would certainly get anonymous data

He goes on to expose that the credit card companies have developed powerful software to analyze customer purchasing patterns:

- [Predictive models exist that will accurately] determine your age, gender and race only from examining your credit card purchase history.

- [Using predictive modeling] we can even "guess" your income range, number of dependant and even your weight.

- We can calculate the odds you eat at McDonald's today, considering you ate at McDonald’s once every X day.

The credit card companies use “cohorts”, statistical groupings of related purchasers. They give these cohorts cute names like “dinks (double income, no kids):

- [Credit card fraud prevention software is] so sophisticated that if you order products a person in your group never ordered, your card will get automatically locked.

Credit card use is never private and it can be used by the police as credit card purchase history is used to prove DUI (you took a large tab at a bar) indirectly.