Personal Information Investigation

DO THEY REALLY NEED THAT INFORMATION?

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Retailers Mine Your Personal Information – And Make a Profit

You May Be Entitled to Compensation

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Have you ever been at the checkout stand when the cashier asked for your zip code, phone number, or email address?

What did you do? Many consumers readily hand this information over without asking why. They think that the cashier needs it to complete the transaction or that it’s required for some other purpose. But once the retailer gets a hold of your personal information they have obtained a valuable asset at your expense.

Retailers often compile customers’ personal information to sell for marketing purposes. Ever wonder why you received a catalog in the mail from a company you’ve never heard of? That’s the reason. Someone somewhere likely sold your information, and chances are they’ve sold it to more than just one company.

 

Believe it or not, it’s actually illegal to request customers’ personal information in some transactions.

In California, if you paid for merchandise with a credit card, a retailer may not as a general rule ask for your personal information. The California Legislature passed a law called the Song-Beverly Act to protect customer privacy and prevent businesses from preying off customers paying with credit cards. These customers are often more susceptible to retail marketing and have demonstrated a willingness to use credit rather than cash to pay for their purchases. Consequently, they are prime targets for unscrupulous companies looking to increase their bottom lines.

You’ve visited a business and bought their merchandise or services—there’s no reason that you should enrich them even further by giving them access to your sensitive information. What’s more, there’s no reason you should allow companies to needlessly stockpile your information. Target, Michaels, Home Depot, PF Chang’s, Neiman Marcus—these are just a few businesses that have been faced with data breaches in recent years. Literally hundreds of businesses have reported data breaches to state authorities, and the number of unreported breaches is likely quite sizeable. By collecting and storing your private information, these businesses are putting you at risk of identity theft. Your bank account could even be in jeopardy, and all for what? Because you bought a product from a company that took advantage of your business to rack up their profits.

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