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Customers May Reveal More Than They Know With E-Mail Receipts

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The question at stores used to be "paper or plastic?" Now it's "paper or e-mail?" E-mailed receipts are convenient and they get rid of clutter, they could have a hidden cost if you're not careful.

It was Apple that started the email receipt trend. Now consumer experts estimate about a third of all retailers offer electronic receipts. Customer Nate Mills said, "They ask if you want your e-mailed receipts and most of the time I say 'yes' because I lose them."

Shopper Sherry Emerson feels differently. "I'm more of a paper person, so I like to hold the receipt to see if they have charged me for anything in error."

If you do decide to get your receipt emailed make note. Consumer advocate Richard Holober says, "Once you've given up your e-mail address, that retailer can use it for any purpose."

In Texas giving out an e-mail address or other personal information is "purely voluntary." According to the attorney general's office, that means a retailer can't force you to give personal information to make a sale.

That being said – once you've given out your e-mail stores can use it for marketing or share it with any company. "Once they have it, there is nothing to prevent them from using it any way they want," Holober said.

The CBS 11 News I-Team checked in with several large retailers who offer emailed receipts. Apple said it does not share personal information with third parties, but does use it for marketing. Macy's told us, "Macy's does not sell email addresses." However, Macy's does use the e-mails collected for marketing purposes. Nordstrom's has a similar policy. They said, "we do not share information with third parties for their marketing use." But the store does use the e-mail to contact customers for its own marketing.

Remember you can always opt out and just get a paper receipt.

What's your best bet? Ask questions before you make the sale and if you do decide to get an e-mailed receipt you might try this tip from shopper Sherrie Emerson who said, "I made secondary e-mail accounts just for junk mail. And when I need to sign up for something all of my junk goes to another e-mail address that's not related to personal or business.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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