Skip to Content
Top 15 shopping apps that collect the most user data (2023)
Security & privacy

Revealed: Shopping apps that collect and sell the most data

Spoiler: They are all super data-hungry. New research dove deep into shopping apps that collect sensitive consumer data. It found that 75% of the apps in the study share user data with third parties. Some even share this data with outsiders without informing you. Lovely. 

I’ve included the sketchiest apps here and tips to help you stay safe. Just because this research focuses on Android doesn’t mean my fellow iPhone owners are in the clear, btw. Apple does a little more to protect us from app tracking, but it still happens.

Dashing through the data

Atlas VPN researchers looked at the Google Play app profiles of the 60 most popular shopping apps. They also reviewed apps in the buy now, pay later (BNPL) and discount offer categories.

We’re not talking about your name and what you bought, people. Most of these apps collect highly personal and financial data, including phone numbers, payment methods, credit scores and even precise locations. 

Atlas says 58% of the apps they reviewed shared names, home addresses, email IDs and phone numbers with third parties. (That’s code for anyone willing to pay enough.) Plus:

  • 25% shared device IDs or other unique identifiers for smartphones and tablets. 
  • Roughly a third disclosed financial data, including purchase history and payment details.
  • 28% shared location data with “external sources,” whatever that means.

That’s about as un-private as it gets. 

Who were the Baddest Santas of the bunch? 

eBay and Amazon ranked the worst in terms of how many user data points they collect, 28 and 25, respectively. Third is the BNPL app Afterpay, which collects 22 unique user data points. 

Get this: Afterpay shared in-app messages, texts, emails and even credit scores with third parties. Oof, no wonder they’ve given out free short-term loans.

Silver lining: Out of all 60 apps, Kohl’s was the only one that didn’t collect any data whatsoever. And who doesn’t love Kohl’s Cash? 

Check it twice

Here are the other apps that made Atlas VPN’s naughty list, along with how many data points they collect:

  • iHerb – 21
  • Vinted – 21
  • Alibaba – 20
  • Home Depot – 20
  • Poshmark – 19
  • Nike – 18
  • Wayfair – 18
  • OfferUp – 18
  • Craigslist – 18
  • ASOS – 18
  • H&M – 18

Play it safe

You can’t always prevent apps from taking your data, but you can decide which ones to interact with. 

  • Disable unnecessary data-sharing options on your phone’s settings, such as location services.
  • Delete shopping apps you don’t use anymore. They can sell your data even if you’re not an active user.
  • Use this free tool to identify the worst data-stealing apps and find the most privacy-friendly options.

Even I was surprised by how much info some of these apps give (or sell) away. If you were, share this article with a friend.

Ask me your digital question!

Navigating the digital world can be intimidating and sometimes downright daunting. Let me help! Reach out today to ask your digital question. You might even be on my show!

Ask Me