In the New Economy, You Are the Product

Maybe that $5 off your next $100 purchase is worth it to you… but you need to know what you're really paying for that coupon, and too often you don't.

Worse yet, I know all too well that, even in the tech world, database encryption is spotty at best and non-existent at worst. The privacy policies might tell you what your favorite retailers will or will not do with your data, but they rarely tell you how securely they store it. And there's the rub -- in this era of countless data breaches, corporate servers are brimming with personal information and the spoils of behavioral tracking are irresistible to cybercriminals.

So the next time a cashier asks you for your ZIP code, email address or phone number before they swipe your card, consider what that data is worth to them – and what it's really worth to you. I suspect saying "No, thanks," will get a lot easier.

This article originally appeared in Credit.com.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.

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