What Personal Information Should You Give to Merchants?


Fact Sheet 15What Personal Information Should You Give to Merchants?

Merchants generally want as much information as possible about their customers so they can more precisely target offers to them. But in our information-centric society, where billions of bits of information can easily be collated and distributed, it’s not necessarily in consumers’ interest to have a lot of their personal data accessible. Seemingly innocuous customer information obtained from consumers at the cash register or online can be combined with data from other sources to obtain a surprisingly detailed portrait of an individual customer. 

Is it possible that in the not-too-distant future an insurance company could check the choices you make at the grocery store and penalize you if you bought, say, cigarettes or high-fat foods? Or, could law-enforcement officials scan store records to see if you acquired materials that could have been used in a crime?

The answer to the second question is “yes”.

State Merchant Laws


Fact Sheet 15 AddendumState Merchant Laws

Online Shopping Tips: E-Commerce and You


Fact Sheet 23Online Shopping Tips:
E-Commerce and You

With just a click of the mouse, shoppers can buy nearly any product online -- from groceries to cars, from insurance policies to home loans. The world of electronic commerce, also known as e-commerce, enables consumers to shop at thousands of online stores and pay for their purchases without leaving the comfort of home. For many, the Internet has taken the place of Saturday afternoon window shopping at the mall. Consumers expect merchants to not only make their products available on the Web, but to make payments a simple and secure process. However, the same things can go wrong shopping in cyberspace as in the real world. Sometimes it is simply a case of a computer glitch or poor customer service. Other times, shoppers are cheated by clever scam artists.

Paper or Plastic: What Have You Got to Lose?


Fact Sheet 32Paper or Plastic:
What Have You Got to Lose?

Once you decide to buy something, you then must determine how to pay for it. Do you hand over cash? Write a check? Pay with a credit card? Or use a debit card and have the payment automatically deducted from your bank account?

If you’re like most people, you use a combination of paper, plastic and electronic payments. Pros and cons exist to whichever payment method you choose. Many of us decide quickly about the method of payment and spend too little time thinking about the potential costs or consumer protections of each method.

But you should be aware that thieves are inventing new ways to steal consumers’ account information. For example, some crooks have learned to use “skimming” devices to steal credit card or debit card information off card-swipe machines. This guide seeks to inform you about your rights as well as outline the potential risks and benefits of different payment methods.

New Federal Law Protects Gift Card Users


Is the gift card that you received for your birthday last month burning a hole in your pocket? Do you still have an unused gift card from the holidays? Consumers often have had to worry about using gift cards before they lost their value. That will now begin to change for the better.

Until recently, many gift cards users had few legal rights to protect them from fees and expiration dates. Although some states had laws protecting gift card users, there was no federal law offering nationwide consumer protections. That has now changed with a new federal law (the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act) that provides important protections for gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010.

Want to Buy a $37 Soda?


Pay with a debit card and that refreshing soda on a hot day may give your wallet chills. Because of the way that most banks process debit card transactions, a $2.00 soda can generate $35 in bank fees. In this alert, we’ll highlight basic steps consumers should take to avoid the pernicious cycle of overdrafts and bank fees

Will I Be Able to Return That Unwanted Holiday Gift? The Retail Equation (formerly The Return Exchange)


When a consumer wants to make a return, the retailer will swipe the person’s driver’s license (or other government-issued ID). As customers return merchandise, The Retail Equation compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and/or time against a set of rules that form the retailer’s return policy. If you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific merchant, you may not be able to do so again at a later date.

10 Tips for Safe and Private Holiday Shopping


As the holidays approach, consumers are more likely to be visiting crowded stores and malls.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they are likely to be lurking there too.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to offer these helpful tips to protect yourself during this often hectic holiday season.

Dump Your Debit Card! New Guide Explains Your Card Payment Options


The PRC advises that most consumers should not use or carry a debit or check card.  The guide explains the eight major shortcomings of these cards and suggests alternatives for consumers to consider.  Paul Stephens, PRC’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, elaborated, “Scammers have become quite sophisticated in gaining access to your card information.  Most people don’t realize that lost, stolen, or compromised debit cards can provide an open door for fraudsters to empty your bank account."

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