13 On Your Side: Zip Code Information
News 13 is On Your Side about a potential risk to your personal information.
When you checkout at a store, you may be asked the question – what is your zip code?
It’s a simple question with a simple answer, but you could be giving up more personal information than you want to.
Zip codes usually indicate what section of town you may live in, but it may also tell someone your bad habits and body type. When you divulge information such as your zip code, retailers and data companies will have the ability to track you and your purchases.
Based on your zip code and purchases, data companies can figure out your spending patterns and your personal information. For example, if you’re pregnant, getting married, selling your house, smoke cigarettes, and the list goes on.
Retailers use this information to tailor advertising based on your current needs. With this information, not only can retailers use it to track what you’ve bought, but they’ll even use it to predict what you will buy in the future.
Some retailers even take your personal information and sell it to data companies. These companies will then sell the info to other companies, including airlines, hotels, and credit card companies.
The truth is – you don’t have to give the cashier your zip code. In some states, your zip code is considered personal information. For example, in Massachusetts, the State Supreme Court ruled that cashiers cannot ask for those numbers.
Also, there is a limit to the types of information they can collect. For example, they cannot get information on any medical issues or prescription drugs.
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