Privacy and Protection: Over the weekend I tried to place an order with an small online retailer and immediately received an email saying that they could not process my order until they had my phone number so they could call and verify that I was a real person. This was despite the fact that my mailing address matched my billing address and the credit card authorization on their end went smoothly with no red flags. Regardless, they insisted on getting a phone number from me. I told them repeatedly via a polite email conversation that I do not have a phone and I was certainly not going to give them my cell phone number. I ended up canceling my order with them and am looking elsewhere for the products and services I was purchasing.
I understand that this company was just trying to protect themselves, so I don’t fault them for requiring this information. But I had a hard time accepting that my phone number should be required to complete a transaction. Like the counter guys at Radio Shack asking for you Zip Code, it’s completely unnecessary. The disturbing trend in retailers acquiring personal information about consumers is getting out of hand and I make it a point to shop where such practices are not enforced.
Here are some tips to getting around such ‘requirements’ when shopping:
- When a retailer asks you for a Zip Code, tell them ‘00000’ or intentionally give them a false Zip Code. Never give them your real Zip Code. You can also simply refuse to provide such information.
- When asked for you phone number either refuse to give it or give a fake number like 212-555-9478. You can also give them the official Rejection Line phone number which is 212-479-7990. If you really hate the retailer you can give them the FTC’s phone number which is 877-382-4357.
- When an email address is required, try to not give them your main email address. I use a series of Yahoo accounts I’ve had for a few years now. The amount of targeted spam these addresses get have proven to me that many online retailers share and sell their customer databases. A reader also writes in saying that it can be beneficial to own a throwaway domain that you use only for online transactions.
If you can get past the gratuitous and disgusting Flash, this palmtop PC looks interesting, though I can’t imagine that screen will surive getting scratched for very long.
The Globalist: The Russian Roots of the Texan Mafia
Posted by Cameron Barrett at August 5, 2002 01:46 PM