The ethical and policy implications of profiling 'vulnerable' customers

Harrison, Paul and Gray, Charles 2010, The ethical and policy implications of profiling 'vulnerable' customers, International journal of consumer studies, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 437-441, doi: 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00873.x.

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Title The ethical and policy implications of profiling 'vulnerable' customers
Author(s) Harrison, PaulORCID iD for Harrison, Paul
Gray, Charles
Journal name International journal of consumer studies
Volume number 34
Issue number 4
Start page 437
End page 441
Total pages 5
Publisher Wiley Interscience
Place of publication New York, N. Y.
Publication date 2010-07
ISSN 1470-6423
Keyword(s) debt
vulnerable consumers
consumer policy
Summary In the shadow of the global financial crisis, the issue of the marketing of credit has become an increasing concern in the past 12 months. Outstanding personal debt in the UK currently stands at £1479 billion and is rising by £1 million every 10.6 min. In Australia, there is currently $44.6 billion worth of outstanding credit card debt, and in the US, $2596 billion was owed on credit cards in 2008. At present, the banking sector utilizes sophisticated research methods to profile consumers, including those who might be considered financially vulnerable. However, the policy frameworks in most industrialized countries do not account for this form of target marketing when considering how to protect vulnerable groups. This paper is an initial attempt to examine the different methods by which profiling is conducted and the policy implications of this sophisticated form of segmentation and targeting. We argue that current consumer policies are inadequate in protecting vulnerable consumers from these marketing techniques, and recent recommendations from the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, and the Australian Law Reform Commission to allow banks and lenders to ‘pre-screen’ potential customers will exacerbate personal debt levels, rather than reducing them.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00873.x
Field of Research 160510 Public Policy
Socio Economic Objective 950402 Business Ethics
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2010
Copyright notice ©2010, The Authors
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Business and Law
Deakin Business School
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