In the last couple of years, more and more retailers and banks have started offering customers the option of receiving receipts from purchases and ATM transactions via email or an e-receipt. While this is a convenient alternative to paper and easier to organize, shoppers need to be vigilant to protect their identity in the process.
Many retailers offer e-receipts not just for their customers’ convenience but also for their own. E-receipts save retailers money, and they make it easier for their customers to electronically file them away until they are needed for returns, warranties or taxes. Merchants can tie e-receipts to store affinity cards, but customers can also opt for paperless simply by providing your email address to the clerk at the time of purchase.
There are also online companies that offer to organize and store digital receipts. You must create an account and provide your credit or debit card information, which the company uses to track transactions. After purchases, the company retrieves receipt information directly from retailers and stores it online. But be careful! Obviously this kind of service is ripe for scammers to mimic in order to steal your information.
While paperless receipts may offer savings and convenience, be sure you are aware of what else you could be receiving in your inbox. Along with receipts, businesses may send “junk mail” filled with surveys, coupons and other promotional offers. They may also use your information to build profiles on demographics and buying habits.
For shoppers who are interested in opting for the paperless, e-receipt, the BBB offers the following tips:
- Find out how the business plans to keep your information secure. Check to see if the business plans on selling your information to third-parties. If they do, be on the lookout for unsolicited emails requesting your personal information; they could be scams that download malware on your computer.
- Ask if you can opt-out of receiving promotional emails. Now that the business has your email address, it’s possible you’ll start to receive coupons, newsletters and other promotional emails from them…and even from others if they’ve sold or shared your data. You may want to set up a separate email address to use for paperless receipts so that you can easily monitor it for spam.
- Beware of scams! Having receipts emailed can also make you susceptible to phishing and other identity theft scams. Scammers pose as retailers or banks with realistic-looking emails that may claim there are problems with your purchase and request that you click a link to fix it. The link may take you to a fraudulent site that asks for your personal information, or it might download malware on your computer that will search your hard drive for account numbers and passwords.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Whether or not you plan to increase your internet and email use, it’s always a good idea to make sure your system’s security plan is updated regularly. Spammers feed off of online shoppers who fail to update their security patches.