Exercise caution: when asked for your ZIP code.

Author:Morrow, Emerald S.
Position:CONSUMER BEWARE - Brief article

WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF THEIR ZIP CODE, IF they do at all, they don't think it's a key to protecting their identity. However, experts say that whenever you give your ZIP code to a cashier at a checkout counter, you could be putting your privacy at risk. "It gives them one more piece of data to get more information about you," says Beth Givens, founder and director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization in San Diego.

Givens says that getting your ZIP code can help merchants obtain your address, phone number, and a host of other identifiers as well. This information could then be used as a potential marketing tool, and could help companies build a larger data profile on you. In most states, collecting ZIP codes is legal, but states such as Massachusetts and California have taken...

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