Security experts warn of sharing contact information to stores - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Security experts warn of sharing contact information to stores

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Experts say consumers should think twice before sharing their phone number, e-mails and zip codes in store checkout lines. Adding to stores' massive collection of consumer data may put personal information at risk.

This comes after a massive security breach at Target, where 70 million customers' personal and security information was compromised.

"This is a time for all of us to really go on high alert about our information," said Michelle Dennedy of McAfee Internet Security.

Sharing e-mails and zip codes allows retailers to send catalogs and discounts to mailboxes and inboxes, under the assumption companies will keep personal information safe.

But if hackers get a hold of that information, it's the easier to trick people into sharing even more information with fake e-mails and letters.

"Don't ever click on a link that's asking for your personal information," Dennedy said. "The banks won't ever send that kind of communication to you."

Stuart Benkert said he keeps his personal information to himself while shopping.

"I don't like the feeling that I'm making it that much easier for someone to get a hold of my information," he said.

The less Benkert shares, the higher his sense of security is at checkout.

"Some things are hard to prevent, but when you make something easy for someone, that's pretty much on you."

Other shoppers, like Toby Mathis, don't mind giving away a few personal details. Mathis said he gives some information to the stores he likes.

"It depends on which one it is, and how much I like them," he said. "Hot Topic has mine, but American Eagle doesn't."

Most laws require companies to inform customers when their privacy has been breached. But there are no national laws limiting how stores get their information and how long they can keep it on file.

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