Why retail stores are asking for your zip code and why it could be dangerous to give it

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Why do retail stores ask for your zip code

We have all had the question asked when we check out at stores.  The cashier casually asks for your zip code.  I always figured that they were trying to see how many shoppers are local.  The question seems innocent enough, right?


It turns out that by providing that tiny piece of information, you could be opening yourself up to everything from unwanted marketing to identity theft.  Some retail stores (and this includes a lot of the big chains!) collect this information and take it to what is called a data mining company where things like your name, address, phone number, date of birth, ethnicity, and even your yearly income can be obtained.  They match your payment information or the information from a check or loyalty card to your zip code.  The list can then be used to market to you or can be sold to others.  And in most cases this is entirely legal.  Next time you are asked, the best advice is to ASK why they need it.  You can then decide whether to provide it or to politely decline to give them the information.  If there is any issue with your refusal, ask to speak to a manager then call the corporate offices of the company to tell then what you think.

NOTE: I understand that there may be legitimate times to give the cashier your zip code.  Sometimes this information is asked for verification purposes. However, it would perhaps be advised then to ask the question as to why they are needing the zip code from you.  Then act as you think you should once you have the answer.  Never be afraid to ask for a manager to explain it properly.  The most important thing is to try to protect your information from unnecessary collection.

For the full story, please view this video from my local news station KSDK.com to learn why a store asks for your zip code.


I want to know!

Where have you been asked for your zip code?  Do you give it?  Do you lie?  Did you have any idea that this was dangerous???  I sure did not till I saw the story!


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  1. We are asked alot around Christmas and wsually at walmart and fareway. We didn’t know why they asked so we always tell them 00000. This way there is no junk tied to us. We don’t like to share our info with anyone that is not needed.

  2. Michelle S says:

    I always question requests for personal information; especially when I’m not in the best of moods. If I don’t feel like going through the hassle, I’ll give them a zip code in Texas (I’m in FL). 🙂

  3. Our gas station asks for your zip code before they authorize your credit card. Why? They want to make sure it’s yours. I have no problem with it.

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