Better Business Bureau: Be cautious when using e-receipts

December 5, 2013 

The frenzy of shopping sometimes leaves people wondering what they actually purchased.

When getting to a cashier, the questions seem to come quickly: Discount card? Coupons? Cash back? Email your receipt? Gift receipt?

Retailers offer e-receipts for both convenience and savings. E-receipts save retailers money, and they make it easier for you to electronically file them away until they’re needed for returns, warranties or taxes.

Beware. After spending a day shopping, you may get notifications from a company or store where you may or may not have been shopping.

This holiday season, when you’re out shopping and request an e-receipt, make sure your information is well-protected.

Be sure you’re 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’ll want to check to see if the business plans to sell 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, it’s possible you’ll start to receive coupons, newsletters and other promotional emails from them … and even from others if they’ve 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’s always a good idea to make sure your system’s security plan is updated regularly. Spammers feed off of online shoppers who fail to update their security patches.

A similar note, beware that fake or fraud emails are going out to shoppers with the text message: “We appreciate your business!” The message is meant to catch people off guard and to open the message. It displays a purchase amount, and what looks like 4-digits of a credit card number, and a confirmation telephone number.

Do not call the number. If you call, they will ask you to explain the transaction’s validity and try to get your Social Security number or a correct credit card number.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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