Word to the wise: Don't let paperless, e-receipts compromise your personal information

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 01/22/2013

Have you ever opted for a paperless, e-receipt? Some 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, the Better Business Bureau is reminding shoppers to protect their identity in the process.


Via the BBB website

January 28, 2013

Have you ever opted for a paperless, e-receipt? Some retailers and banks have started offering customers the option of receiving receipts from purchases and ATM transactions via email. While this is a convenient alternative to paper clutter, your Better Business Bureau is reminding shoppers to protect their identities in the process.

Many retailers offer e-receipts for both consumer convenience and theirs. E-receipts save retailers money, and make it easier for consumers to electronically file them away until they are needed for returns, warranties or taxes. E-receipts can often be tied to your store affinity card, but you can usually opt for paperless simply by providing your email 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. Be careful because this kind of service is ripe for scammers to mimic in order to steal personal information.

While paperless receipts may offer savings for retailers and convenience to consumers, be sure you are aware of what else you could be receiving in your inbox. Along with receipts, businesses may send ďjunk mailĒ 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 paperless, e-receipts, BBB offers the following tips:

Find out how the business plans to keep your information secure. Youíll 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 emails requesting your personal information; they could be scams that download malware on your computer.

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

Beware of scams! Having receipts emailed can also make you susceptible to phishing and other identity theft scams. Scammers pose as retailers or banks with realistic-looking emails 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 email use, it is always a good idea to make sure your systemís security plan is updated regularly. Spammers feed off of online shoppers who fail to update their security patches.

For more BBB tips and information you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.

About the BBB System

BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organizationís high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 114 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.