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AT THE STORE

Don't Get Cashiered

The Annoyance:

At my local electronics boutique the cashier always asks me for my home zip code or phone number. Should I give it? What happens to this information?

The Fix:

These may seem like innocent questions, but this data—and, really, any personal information that isn't related to payment—is none of the store's business. In California it's illegal for cashiers to ask for personal information when you pay by check or credit card, but most states aren't that strict. About half the states have some laws regarding retail privacy, but most regulate whether a merchant can demand to see your credit card when you write a check, or if they can record your phone number or address when paying with plastic. The answer in most cases is usually no. (For a state-by-state guide to retail privacy laws, see the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse fact sheet at http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs15plus.htm).


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