On an airline's website, you price a trip to Vegas -- and soon you see casino ads all over the Net. Coincidence? No, just tags that track your clicks and cue those creepy pitches.
Shake them off with these measures:
Cut the cookies
In your browser's privacy settings, block third-party cookies to make it tougher for marketers to keep tabs on you. While there, check the "do not track" request, the online equivalent of a do-not-call list, says Joseph Lorenzo Hall of the Center for Democracy & Technology.
See who's watching
Visit a single site and you might pick up dozens of tracking tags that tail you on the web. The free browser extension Ghostery (at ghostery.com) lets you see them and decide which to nix. For shutting out third-party ads, Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests the free AdBlock Plus extension (adblockplus.org).
Get an email alias
Finding you online via your email address -- obtained from your loyalty card, perhaps -- marketers can link your online and offline behavior and solicit you accordingly. To prevent this, Stefen Smith of information security firm SecureForce advises setting up an email account solely for commercial transactions.
-- Sarah Max
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