California outlaws zip code harvesting at stores

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California outlaws zip code harvesting at stores
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Sometimes I prove to be very naïve. I confessed to my naïveté recently when I said I used to be glad to give out my zip code when I was asked at the store. My assumption was they would determine where to open new locations based on that info and they might put a store closer to where I live. Well, it turned out not to be true.

Whenever you pay with plastic, retailers use data-mining software that takes the name on your account and, with the zip code you supply, develops a dossier on you with pinpoint accuracy. They can find out exactly where you live and then target-market you with junk mail.

California has now outlawed merchants asking for your zip code because it is such a major invasion of privacy.

When you are out buying something somewhere and you’re asked for your zip code, give whatever one you want or just make one up. Tell them you live at the White House and your zip is 20050. I don’t care. Just don’t give your real zip because then the spy business unleashes on you and it is creepy. The Wall Street Journal has detailed how much info is in these private data-mining repositories on each of us. The things people know is so invasive and so intrusive that not giving your zip code is just one line of defense.

One place you do need to give your zip code is when you’re doing pay at the pump. That’s an anti-fraud protection. If somebody steals your card and they don’t know where you live, then their purchase of gas is denied.

One final thought, if you use a debit card to do pay at the pump, you could end up overdrawing your account. Stations place a hold on your account that could exceed the entire account balance. The hold is usually not released for days. Then you could have checks bouncing around all over town in a worst-case scenario.

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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