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Clark Howard: Zip codes

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Updated: 4/30/2013 11:05 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you get to the register at a retail store, do you ever notice how the cashier will ask you for your zip code when you present your credit card or debit card?

What's that about?  Are they trying to make sure you're using a card that's actually yours?

Unh-unh! What they're doing is actually taking your zip code and information from the credit or debit card you present, and then they're using databases to send you junk mail.

They're able to figure out your full address without you giving it to them, just from your zip code and credit or debit card number. 

So here's my advice.  Unless you like getting catalogs and junk mail from whatever store you're in, don't give your zip code. 

Here's a different scenario. You're at the gas station, you're at the pump and it asks you for your zip code when you insert your credit card.

There, you need to give it. Think about it.  The clerk at the gas station isn't seeing you, so somebody needs to verify you're not using a stolen card. The best way for them to do it is with your zip code.

Watch Clark Howard weekday mornings on Action News This Morning on FOX30 beginning at 7 a.m.
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