This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.
Many retailers offer e-receipts for both our convenience and theirs. E-receipts save retailers money, and they make it easier for you to electronically file them away until they're needed for returns, warranties or taxes.
While paperless receipts may offer savings for retailers and convenience to you, be sure you're 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, BBB offers the following tips:
•Find out how the business plans to keep your information secure. You'll want to 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 security patches.