Tuesday, July 29, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Be careful about disclosing your ZIP code at checkout

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s becoming a common practice for merchants to ask for your ZIP code when you use a credit card at the checkout, and most consumers reflexively disclose the code, believing it’s a security measure.

But that’s not always the case. Some retailers use the information to send unwanted catalogs, junk mail and telemarketers your way.

So says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the San Diego-based nonprofit, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Stephens warns that the five-digit piece of information can tell retailers a lot about you when paired with your name and credit card number. He also says some merchants sell the information to data brokers to create full consumer profiles.

“It’s quite widespread,” Stephens said. “Consumers don’t even know these profiles exist.”

Recently the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that retailers can’t require ZIP codes during a credit card transaction if the information is used for data collection or marketing, making it the second state (California is the other) to do so.

But they can use it for fraud prevention, and that’s primarily why Utah vendors say they ask for ZIP codes, said Dave Davis, president of the 600-member Utah Retail Merchants Association.

“I’m not aware of any (Utah) retailers collecting (ZIP codes) and using them for (data mining),” he said.

Marsha Gilford, company spokeswoman, for Smith’s Food & Drug stores, said the grocer’s gas stations require ZIP codes on all credit card purchases at the pump, but that it often does not do so for in-store purchases.

“Inside the store, you have the benefit of a personal interaction between a checker and a customer, and whatever ID is required can be verified,” Gilford said. “At the fuel pump, there’s really no check. If someone is using someone else’s credit card, they really need to know that billing ZIP code to be able to utilize that card. It’s more of a precaution we take for our customers to prevent fraudulent use of their card.”

There is a similar requirement at the 200 Chevron and Texaco franchises in Utah, Chevron spokesman Greg Hardy said. “If a customer doesn’t want to enter a ZIP code, they can go inside in the store and make the purchase,” Hardy said.

Some credit card companies take fraud prevention beyond the pump. American Express spokeswoman Amelia Woltering said the company began requesting ZIP codes from customers at gas stations and at top national retail chains in 2003.

“Every American Express transaction goes through a fraud screen (that includes ZIP codes),” Woltering said. “Often we are able to detect problems even before a card member is aware of it.”

Woltering said that retailers don’t keep the ZIPs acquired through American Express purchases for marketing.

But privacy advocates want to make sure that fraud prevention measures don’t open the door for data collection.

“A ZIP code sounds like something generic, but it does constitute personal information,” said Stephens of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse said.

Scripps Howard News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Solano Business IncubatorMarch 30, 2013 - 4:48 pm

    Thank you for the tip! You're a great Newspaper! You have our zip code. That's ok because we trust you. =)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Weather for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

.

US / World

 
Sacramento Gold Rush Days canceled due to drought

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Annoying minor floods are increasing on US coasts

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Man charged in teen’s 9-month disappearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Medicare’s own health looking better, report says

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Deal to improve veterans’ health care costs $17B

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Suspect dead, 2 marshals and cop wounded in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
New fears about Ebola spread after plane scare

By The Associated Press | From Page:

In Iraq’s Mosul, radicals unleash their vision

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Fighting in Ukraine prompts residents to flee

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Israeli PM warns of prolonged campaign in Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Witnesses: Thunderstorm hit beach without warning

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Suspect’s mom also charged in Long Beach burglary

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
City: Emails show ‘cozy’ ties of PG&E, regulator

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Pool water dumped in South Tahoe; resort fires 3

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Additional charge filed in California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page:

California governor takes dig at Texas guard plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Kevin Bacon brings his ‘Six Degrees’ to Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: | Gallery

 
TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Giants lose 5th straight, 5-0 to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
 
Lakers finally confirm Byron Scott is new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders relying on healthy Watson to solidify line

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
This date in sports history for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s day at Browns camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Judge OKs record-setting $2B sale of Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Humphrey to savor Hall of Fame day with ‘wingman’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rays’ Archer: ‘Never saw Hank Aaron flip his bat’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Reed HOF induction gives Bills cause to celebrate

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

In the Pits: Gordon eyeing 5th title after big Brickyard win

By Jenna Fryer | From Page: | Gallery

 
Marketing agreement an obstacle in US bid for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sailors to navigate dirty water in 1st Rio test

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Manningham back with Giants, with no guarantees

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Business

Contracts to buy US homes slip in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Stocks pause as traders await key economic news

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Zillow buying Trulia to build real estate titan

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Dollar Tree steps up fight, buys Family Dollar

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5