Guard Your Zip Code

Jacqui Kenyon

cashierIt probably happens to you every time you go shopping: During checkout, the cashier asks, “May I have your zipcode?”

An identify theft expert interviewed on Today says that you’re better off just saying no.

As it turns out, many retailers take the name on your credit card and your zip code to look up your full address, phone number and email address in order to add you to their email and mailing lists. Even worse, they can sell your information to third-party companies, resulting in a deluge of spam in your inbox and your mailbox.

Retailers defend the practice by saying that learning information about their individual customers helps them better cater to their customers’ wants and needs. But some states are taking action to protect to consumers: Massachusetts and California have both outlawed the zip code question.

  • Becky Scianna

    It is also how you get coupons from your favorite stores. What is a piece of mail going to hurt? I would rather save 50% my new dress than freak out about a zip code. I worked in retail for several years and we had strict policies about not selling our clients’ info.

    • Yoyo

      That piece will result in more pieces when your info get sold.

  • JDinHuntsvilleAL

    BUT, SOME places use your zip code as a cross-check that you are really you. The zip code you provide is checked against the zip code on your account, and if it doesn’t match the card is rejected. I think this is a good thing. If places like WalMart did that, credit card thieves couldn’t us stolen cards as easily.

    At at least 1 gas station I occasionally use, if you don’t enter the correct zip code you can’t charge your gas.