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E-receipts may be the future, but they're not without risk

Oct 02, 2011 Karen Umpierre

E-receipts may be the future, but they're not without risk
More and more retailers are beginning offer customers emailed receipts as America continues its transition toward paperless in-store transactions, according to the Kansas City Star.
 The news source reports that retail experts expect e-receipts to have the same effect on paper receipts as near field communication will eventually have on credit cards - that is, make them obsolete. Apple first unveiled the e-reciept option six years ago, and since then some large retailers - such as Sears and Kmart - have rolled out paperless receipt programs of their own. The environmentally-friendly factor can't be understated. "More customers are opting to receive their receipts via email because it's saving on paper and it's also more convenient for them," jeweler Shaleighne Murphy told KABC-TV. The Star adds that e-receipts also reduce handbag or wallet clutter, and can be easier to locate if needed for returns, warranty information or tax-filing purposes. Additionally, e-receipts can be used for consumer tracking purposes, said Mark Johnson, president and CEO of Loyalty 360. "When you send a digital receipt, you can see the person open it, you can see if they clicked on a subsequent offer," Johnson told KABC-TV. By offering e-receipts directly, retailers may ask consumers to create an account and provide credit card information, which the company uses to track account transactions, the Dayton Daily News reports. Since the company receives receipt information directly after a purchase, they're able to take that data, store it online, and build a profile based on preferred products and buying habits, which allows them to improve targeted marketing tactics. However, some negatives do exist. Handbag clutter may soon be replaced with email clutter. DDN points out that along with receipts, businesses may send junk mail filled with surveys, coupons and other unwanted promotional offers. Identity theft may also be an issue, as KABC-TV notes that e-receipts represent a new platform for hackers. "These email addresses now can be as valuable as a credit card number because they have huge data insights into the individual transactional behavior and product interests," Loyalty 360's Johnson told the media outlet. Cyber Security Tips notes that a scammer may pose as a retailer or bank and send emails claiming there are issues with an emailed receipt. They may request that the user click links to provide personal information, which they use to commit fraud.