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Investigation Unit: New School Receipts Come with Privacy Risk

Paper or e-mail? That's the new questions you may be asked the next time you pay for something at a Big Country store and the clerk offers you a receipt.<p>
Paper or e-mail? That's the new questions you may be asked the next time you pay for something at a Big Country store and the clerk offers you a receipt.

A handful of stores are now giving consumers the option to have a receipt electronically sent to their inbox. However, customers should be prepared for other things to start popping up in their inbox.

"More customers are opting to receive their receipts via email because it's saving on paper and it's also more convenient for them," said Shaleighne Murphy of a national jewelry chain.

Stephen Macary is one of those customers who loves e-receipts. He manages a fleet of company cars. When one needs an oil change, the repair shop just e-mails the invoice to him.

"It gets you the information in a timely manner, and you're able to view the documents pretty much right away," noted Macary.

Shortly after Stephen gave the shop his e-mail, surveys, coupons, and reminder notices started popping up.

"All these vendors capture information; they're going to capture it for emailing you something," added Macary.

Other recipients we talked to say as soon as they went papers, e-offers started to follow. Retails insiders confirm some businesses make big bucks filling your inbox with offers and sometimes even selling your information.

"Nothing is as profitable as your own in house mailing list. When you give that information you're building a stores mailing list," said Robert Smith, CEO Champion Media Worldwide.

We found retailers can actually track you through e-receipts and coupon offers. When you send a digital receipts, the business can see if a person opens it and click on the offers. Consumers advocates tell us some retailers take that info and build profiles about you like: who you are, your age, your and buying habits.

Privacy experts say before you opt for an e-receipt, find out if you can opts out from e-offers, whether the company sells your information to third parties, and how they keep your information secure.

"These email addresses can now be as valuable as a credit card number because they have huge data insights into the individual transactional behavior and product interests," said Mark Johnson of the Loyalty Marketers Association. Stephen recommends setting up a separate e-mail accounts just for e-receipts. He says despite the slight risk of scams and spam, he actually loves getting the coupons and reminders to his inbox. "I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to going paperless. I whole heartedly endorse it," said Macary.

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