Why you shouldn't give your ZIP code to stores - New York News

Why you shouldn't give your ZIP code to stores

Updated:
By Mike Mozart, "JeepersMedia" via Flickr. The ZIP code is usually not really needed to complete credit card transactions — but stores love it because it enables them to find out your address. By Mike Mozart, "JeepersMedia" via Flickr. The ZIP code is usually not really needed to complete credit card transactions — but stores love it because it enables them to find out your address.

By: Michael De Groote, Deseret News

An article by Adam Tanner at Forbes says you should never give your ZIP code to stores. Never.

Everywhere you go, stores, gas stations, entertainment venues and other places ask for a ZIP code to finish a credit card transaction. With the exception of maybe American Express (which uses it to prevent fraud, apparently) the code is not needed to buy things.

Sean Boulger at scambook.com explains why companies want your ZIP code: "Companies collect your ZIP code because it can be used to get your full address when combined with the first and last names that are on your credit card. With this information, the company can send you direct marketing catalogues. They can also sell your information to third-parties, who will then re-sell your information to whomever the like. It's not a very pretty picture."

"In one of their brochures," Tanner at Forbes says, "direct marketing services company Harte-Hanks describes the GeoCapture service they offer retail businesses as follows: 'Users simply capture name from the credit card swipe and request a customer's ZIP code during the transaction. GeoCapture matches the collected information to a comprehensive consumer database to return an address.' In a promotional brochure, they claim accuracy rates as high as 100 percent."

Fair Isaac Corporation (the FICO credit scores company) offers a similar service.

"The result can be unwanted catalogs and other junk mail," says Ann Carrns at The New York Times. "(To get a simple idea of the cumulative impact of each tidbit of information, try searching for your name alone on Google search, and then search again using your name and ZIP code, and see how much more data comes back. If you have an uncommon name - as I do - it's eye opening.)"

As Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker says, "Not all retailers use your ZIP code to find out your exact address or contact information, but why give them that key?"

Sean Boulger at scambook.com says, "Some stores may get pushy, but you're not going to be denied a purchase anytime soon because you refused to give out your ZIP code."

According to the Free Enterprise blog at findlaw.com, in some states, like Massachusetts, it is illegal to ask for the ZIP code. "Because the state (Massachusetts) prohibits the collection of 'personal identification information' by retailers for marketing purposes, the court held. The ruling turned on whether a ZIP code is a form of 'personal identification information.' The court found that it was, because it provides enough information to identify a customer's address or phone number through the use of a 'reverse phone book.'"

Carrns at The New York Times says stores may still ask (presumably in all states) for ZIP codes if it actually is needed to complete a transaction. For example, if your card won't swipe properly, the store may need the ZIP to verify the card. American Express also has a system that requires the ZIP to verify cards to prevent fraud.

There is another way to bypass giving out a ZIP code. Use cash.

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Friday Night Live: July 25, 2014

    Friday Night Live: July 25, 2014

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:31 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:31:59 GMT
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Michael Chernow and Chef Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shop.
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Michael Chernow and Chef Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shop.
  • G subway line shutting down for 5 weeks

    G subway line shutting down for 5 weeks

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:37 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:37:26 GMT
    Beginning Friday night, a portion of the G subway line that connects Brooklyn and Queens will be shut down for five weeks.
    The MTA says there will be no service between the Nassau Avenue station in Greenpoint and Court Square in Long Island City until Sept. 2.
    Beginning Friday night, a portion of the G subway line that connects Brooklyn and Queens will be shut down for five weeks.
    The MTA says there will be no service between the Nassau Avenue station in Greenpoint and Court Square in Long Island City until Sept. 2.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:45 PM EDT2014-07-26 00:45:49 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices