The Benefits and Dangers of Digital Receipts

Retailers Seek to Entice Customers with Convenient Payment Options
December 13, 2013

With the probable demise of physical cash in the near future, many retailers—large and small—are adopting point-of-sale solutions to accommodate the increasing use of debit and credit. The ease of implementation, gentle learning curve and competitive fees are making smartphone and tablet-based POS options extremely popular. However, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is reminding shoppers to understand the benefits and dangers of mobile payment options.

The Benefits

  • Only one card needs to be taken along on shopping sprees; carrying large amounts of cash for purchases is impractical and poses theft risks.
  • Charges made with debit or credit cards offer built-in protections like zero or limited liability.
  • Significant amounts of paper are saved with the use of digital receipts.
  • Small vendors can now accept small non-cash payments anywhere, without the fees previously associated with this convenience.

The Dangers

  • Since payments are typically processed on mobile devices which are not connected to printers, digital receipts are often emailed to customers; but, if email addresses are incorrect or spam filters are overly-aggressive, records of transactions may be lost, making it difficult to return or exchange merchandise.
  • Phishing emails with fake receipts can get mixed in with legitimate digital receipts and pose identity theft risks.
  • Once companies have email addresses and other personal information, they may be sold to third parties or used to blast “promotional” offers.

Always ask how personal information will be used and consider creating a second email address that will only be used for digital receipts. Also, it is always a good idea to make sure that digital receipts have arrived to inboxes before leaving stores; ask for handwritten copies if necessary.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.