Well the Christmas season is upon us and we’re all out there shopping for presents for our loved ones. Just recently I was shopping at Best Buy to purchase some computer components, but when I got home I found that one items was broken.
So of course the next thing I did was to go back to Best Buy and return the defective merchandise for replacement. What I was surprised to learn during the exchange process was that I was expected to hand over my driver’s license to verify my identity. The store clerk actually requested me to remove my driver’s license and hand it to her so she could scan it into their computer system. I refused. She then pointed out that on my receipt it clearly states “When you return or exchange an item at the store we will require a valid form of photo ID. The information from your ID will be stored in a secure, encrypted database of customer return activities that Best Buy and its affiliates use to track returns by our customers.” Again, I refused to hand over my driver’s license. She insisted that my personal information would be safe.
Yea, right! How would she know? I’m sure the people at Amazon, Sony, Nintendo, and hundreds of other companies who had a data breach in 2011 believed their customer’s information was secure too. These databases of personal information is a gold mine for identity thieves and cyber attackers. Best Buy and other companies are setting themselves up to be targets.
While I was finally able to exchange my merchandise without having to hand over my driver’s license, I find it very odd in this age of cyber-crime and all of the different attacks and security breaches that companies have been experiencing in 2011, that any company would want to take on the liability of storing driver’s license information. At the same time it is the responsibility of each of us to manage and secure our own personal information even if companies won’t.
So just because you are asked for a driver’s license, social security number, or any other personal information, you do have the right to say “No”. And if the clerk or receptionist tells you that it’s their policy to collect this information then you have also the right to turn around and walk out. It should be your policy to not gratuitously hand out your personal information!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!