Do Not Let E-Receipts Compromise Your Personal Information

February 25, 2013

Many retailers and banks have started offering customers the option of receiving receipts from purchases and ATM transactions via e-mail. While this is a convenient alternative to paper clutter, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is reminding shoppers to protect their identity in the process.

Many retailers offer e-receipts for both your convenience and theirs. E-receipts save retailers money, and they make it easier for you to file them away electronically until they are needed for returns, warranties or taxes. E-receipts can often be tied to your store affinity card, but you can often opt for paperless simply by providing your e-mail address to the clerk at the time of purchase.

There are also online companies that offer to organize and store digital receipts. You must create an account and provide your credit or debit card information, which the company uses to track transactions. After purchases, the company retrieves receipt information directly from retailers and stores it online. BBB urges consumers to exercise caution, as this kind of service is ripe for scam artists to mimic in order to steal your information.

While paperless receipts may be a convenience to you, be sure you are aware of what else you could be receiving in your inbox. Along with receipts, businesses may send “junk mail” filled with surveys, coupons and other promotional offers. They may also use your information to build profiles on demographics and buying habits.

For shoppers who are interested in opting for the paperless e-receipt, BBB offers the following tips:

Find out how the business plans to keep your information secure. You will want to check to see if the business plans on selling your information to third-parties. If they do, be on the lookout for unsolicited e-mails requesting your personal information, as these could be scams that download malware on your computer.

Ask if you can opt-out of receiving promotional e-mails. Now that the business has your e-mail address, it is possible you will start to receive coupons, newsletters and other promotional e-mails from them and even from others, if they have sold or shared your data. You may want to set up a separate e-mail address to use for paperless receipts so that you can easily monitor it for spam.

Beware of scams! Having receipts e-mailed can also make you susceptible to phishing and other identity theft scams. Scam artists pose as retailers or banks with realistic-looking e-mails that may claim there are problems with your purchase and request that you click a link to fix it. The link may take you to a fraudulent site that asks for your personal information, or it might download malware on your computer that will search your hard drive for account numbers and passwords.

Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Whether or not you plan to increase your Internet and e-mail use, it is always a good idea to make sure your system’s security plan is updated regularly. Scam artists feed off of online shoppers who fail to update their security patches.

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