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Privacy: Is it smart to hand over your email and number for discounts?

If you don’t like paying full price you probably sign up for rewards. But is handing over your email or phone number worth it for a coupon code?

It’s a savvy shopper's favorite time of year: Discounts and deals as far as the eye can see.

You’re probably like me — I don’t like paying full price. But is handing over your email address, phone number or even more worth it for a coupon code? Like most things tech, it depends.

Only two weeks left to win a new iPhone 15 (valued at $799). Enter to win it now!


What’s in the fine print?

Did you read it when you signed up? Yeah, I thought so. It’s never too late to go back and check the terms and conditions. Here are some recent stats from Atlas VPN, which reviewed some of the most popular shopping apps.

Things aren’t much better if you’re signing up for an email list, handing over your number for marketing texts or becoming a "member," even when it’s free. Speaking of …


What about store loyalty cards?

Getting talked into signing up for a store loyalty program is easy. In exchange for a little info, you can score great deals on groceries, household items, you name it. But just like the other methods we discussed, you’re giving away a lot more than you think.

Each swipe of your loyalty card, phone number or email address tells the store everything you bought, when you bought it, in what quantity, and at what price, along with your payment details. Pair that with downloading your store’s app; they also know where you are.


"Who cares if my store knows what brands I like?" Fair enough, but the tracking goes far beyond that. Rewards cards store data, including your name, address, phone number, and credit and debit cards. Thieves can steal this information and create a fake identity for a crime spree.

The good news is there are simple ways around handing this over.

And hey, if all else fails, consider whether saving $1.25 is worth it for your data. I’m willing to bet it’s not.

Do it the privacy-first way

Remember how often sites used to ask you to answer a question to prove your identity? Thieves caught on, and now your bank has safer ways of ensuring it’s you than providing your mother’s maiden name.

My advice back then is the same now: Fudge it. (If you ever are asked to answer a personal question when creating a log-in, make something up — as long as you can remember what you said later.)

For coupons, loyalty cards and all the rest, that means setting yourself up with a burner email address and phone number. I encourage you to keep your real contact info closer to the vest. 

Burner email addresses are disposable and can be used in place of your primary.

If you’re an Apple iCloud+ subscriber, you get access to one of my favorite Apple features: Hide My Email. It creates unique, random email addresses that forward to your inbox. You can create as many addresses as you want and reply to messages.

Here are options for getting a burner phone number, if you need one.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called "Kim Komando Today." It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: House cleaning robots, bank robocall scams & Google's Santa fail

Plus, I'm hooking Jessica from Illinois up with tips for cheap last-minute flights. Doing some holiday shopping? Here are the top tech gifts this season. Free tool to block online trolls and unique remote jobs. Also, try these Siri and Google Assistant voice commands for emergencies!

Check out my podcast "Kim Komando Today" on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, "Komando."


Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 430,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

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