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Consumers probing privacy policies this holiday season

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For years, a company's privacy policy was something that the resounding majority of consumers simply did not read. But in this unsettling era tragically marked by everything from identify theft to digital spying, consumers are finally starting to read the fine print.

This holiday season, in fact, consumers are specifically requesting to read the privacy policies maintained by a host of merchants.

"If a consumer is using a service provider that in any fashion has access to sensitive user or payment information, it is wise to review their privacy policies," says tech industry analyst and blogger Mike Randazzo.

Consumers have grown so concerned that a number of leading industry giants have stepped forward to preemptively draw attention to their privacy policies.

"Frankly," Randazzo says, "I would be concerned about any merchant or service provider that doesn't make their privacy policies clear and accessible online today."

This month, PayAnywhere - one of the nation's foremost mobile payments providers - posted a comprehensive entry on its company blog that outlined its privacy policy and pledged that which consumers across the world are seeking more of today - transparency.

"You can rest assured that any data collected once you have been approved for a PayAnywhere account is entirely impersonal in nature and is only collected so that we can continue to bring you and your customers as smooth a transaction process as possible," the company writes on the PayAnywhere blog.

With concerns regarding user privacy poised to grow even further in 2014, Randazzo expects privacy policies to become standard reading material for innumerable consumers over the course of the next twelve months.

"It's a shame that they have to take matters into their own hands," the analyst concludes, "but it bodes well for personal and financial security that more Americans are taking steps to ensure that their privacy is protected by the companies they trust and patronize."

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