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Should you give your zip code at checkout?

  • Massachusetts customer suing Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Zip code collection is illegal in at least two states
  • Opponents cite privacy concerns
Credit card

There are certain pieces of personal information you never want to give out unless it's absolutely necessary. Social Security number immediately comes to mind. But what about your zip code?

Bed Bath & Beyond is being sued in Massachusetts. What were they allegedly doing? Asking customers for their zip codes at checkout.

That might seem innocent enough, but a cashier asking you for your zip code is actually illegal in Massachusetts and California. Retailers combo your zip code with your credit or debit card number, figure out your address, and then bombard you with junk mail. We're not exactly talking identity theft here, but there are still privacy concerns.

The bottom line is, no matter what state you live in, you don't have to give your zip code at checkout. So, if the cashier asks, just say, "No thanks!"

Now, what about at the gas pump, when you use a credit card and it asks you to punch in your zip code? That's legit, because it's how they prevent fraud and theft. They're just trying to make sure you are who you say you are.



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