How to Decline Giving Out Your Email Address, Phone Number and ZIP Code at Retail Stores

How to Decline Giving Out Your Email Address, Phone Number and ZIP Code at Retail Stores
 

Do you have to give out your personal information at retail stores in order to complete a purchase? Absolutely not. You have the right to decline.

“What’s your phone number?” the cashier said.

“That’s ok,” I said.

“Are you earning points with your Rewards Card?”

“No, thanks.”

“Would you like to apply? It only takes a minute.”

“Not today.”

The cashier scanned my items and I paid. Then, she continued. "Can I have your email for the receipt?”

“I’ll just take the hard copy.”

“Would you like to subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive offers and coupons?”

“Maybe next time.”

She handed me the receipt and circled a URL. "Please take a minute to complete the survey, so you can be entered into the drawing for a chance to win $5,000."

“Thank you.”

This happens when cashiers ask for your phone number, email address, ZIP code or other personal information at the point of sale, so the retailers can learn more about you and track your shopping habits.

While you might sometimes share your information with favorite retailers, it can still be tiring, intrusive and might even lead to more sensitive information being accessed. Nevertheless, don’t get angry with the cashiers — they’re just the messenger. Retail stores train them to aggressively mine your information to extend the company's marketing reach. Instead, know how to decline.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to decline giving out your personal information at retail stores.

What’s Your _____ (Phone Number, Email Address, ZIP Code)?

Questions are often phrased like obligations, but remember — it’s your privacy. Even if a retailer says, “Let’s start with your phone number,” you’re not obligated to give it out. You have the right to decline.

  1. That’s ok. / That's alright.

  2. No thanks. / No thank you.

  3. Sorry, I don’t give out my phone number / email / ZIP code.

  4. Sorry, why do you need my phone number / email / ZIP code?

  5. How do you use my information?

  6. Do you share my information with third parties?

  7. If I give you my phone number / email address / ZIP code, how can I opt-out if I change my mind later? Where is this information posted?

Are You Earning Points with Your Rewards Card?

Whether it’s called a Rewards Card, Point Card, VIP Card, Gold Card, Honors Cards, Priority Card or something else — these loyalty cards encourage customers to continue shopping at retail stores with special offers and discounts, but they also track your shopping habits.

  1. That’s ok. / That's alright.

  2. No thanks. / No thank you.

Would You Like To Apply? It Only Takes a Minute.

If you apply for a loyalty card, consider what information you’re providing. Find out how your information will be used or if that information will be shared with third parties.

  1. No thanks. / No thank you.

  2. Not today.

  3. Maybe next time.

  4. How do you use my information?

  5. Do you share my information with third parties?

  6. How can I opt-out if I change my mind later? Where is this information posted?

Can I Have Your Email for the Receipt?

Many retails stores offer customers a digital receipt in exchange for their email address. This is convenient if you want a digital copy of your receipt, but you could also just take a photo of your receipt with your phone and avoid giving out any personal information.

Also, at self-check-out kiosks or point of sale devices, you may be presented with an on-screen prompt that asks if you’d like a digital receipt. Press “no” to decline.

  1. That’s ok. / That's alright.

  2. No thanks. / No thank you.

  3. The hard copy is fine.

  4. I’ll just take the hard copy.

Would You Like to Subscribe to our Mailing List for Exclusive Offers and Coupons?

When you subscribe to a mailing list online, by law a company must include an unsubscribe link in every email. The same is true with a retail store's email, but they may also send special offers and discounts in the mail (no unsubscribe link). Find out how your information is used and if retailers share your information with third parties.

  1. No thanks. / No thank you.

  2. Not today.

  3. Maybe next time.

  4. How do you use my information?

  5. Do you share my information with third parties?

  6. How can I opt-out if I change my mind later? Where is this information posted?

Please Take a Minute to Complete the Survey, so You can be Entered into the Drawing for a Chance to Win...

Retail stores often encourage customer feedback with special offers and discounts. If you decide to provide feedback, look for a privacy policy (in the store or online) for how your personal information is used.

  1. Thank you.

  2. How do you use my information?

  3. Do you share my information with third parties?

  4. If I participate, will I be subscribed to a mailing list?

Conclusion

You just learned how to decline giving out your personal information at retail stores. To learn more about your privacy when shopping visit the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse or contact retail stores online to learn about their policies or to submit complaints.

Finally, listen carefully to what cashiers are asking because sometimes it may interest you –– like when they ask if you're a student or senior to find out if you're eligible for a discount.

How do you feel about giving out email address, phone number and zip code at retail stores? Do you think it’s intrusive? Answer in the Comments below.

How to Decline Giving Out Your Email Address, Phone Number and Zip Code at Retail Stores first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.

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Jeff Shibasaki blogs about effective communication skills for the USA at Culture Gaps and healthy web design for unhealthy websites at Bento Sites.