Service of Digital Receipts Going Astray: Can Square Fix the Glitch?

June 10th, 2019

Categories: Credit Card, Digital Receipts, Privacy, Retail, Technology


It’s bad enough when you’re not paying attention and you email James Doe instead of James Doener because you let auto suggest have its way with you. Most people have done this or received correspondence for someone because of it. I cringe at a few of my bloopers.

Now it turns out that a record of your purchases could possibly be shared with others. Peter Rudegeair wrote about it in “Square Sends Millions of Digital Receipts, Sometimes to the Wrong Person From surprise gifts to pending divorces, misdirected notifications result in spilled secrets.” Square is a service that allows companies to accept mobile credit card payments via a gizmo inserted into the port of a phone.

In one example Rudegeair wrote about a friend who learned that the credit card owner was getting a divorce because she received a copy of a detailed lawyer’s receipt for the retainer.


In another a spouse received a detailed digital receipt, before Christmas, of gifts that were supposed to be a surprise. Because she was getting the blame–and had never before had so many complaints for her service–the local retailer asked Square to disable the automated digital receipt function two years ago.

Rudegeair reported that if a spouse signs up for a digital receipt program for a card they share, they both get them. The partner may not realize this. A florist “has gotten calls from spouses who had surprise gifts spoiled by an errant receipt,” he wrote. The florist added “God forbid anyone was having an affair. You’d see everything.”


Rudegear wrote: “Square has forwarded receipts documenting transactions as mundane as a cup of coffee and as sensitive as an obstetrician’s visit to people who were uninvolved in the purchases, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In some cases, neither the purchaser nor the recipient could say why Square sent receipts to the people it did.”

According to a Square spokesperson “digital receipts could be received by the wrong person for a variety of reasons, including consumers sharing a credit-card number, accidentally sending the receipt to a recycled phone number or seller or buyer error.”

Customers signing up for digital receipts is a profitable sideline for Square, Rudegear reported: “Square has a window into spending patterns that few other tech companies can match. By supplementing that data with contact details that shoppers provide to Square for the purpose of getting digital receipts, the company is able to assemble expansive profiles of consumer behavior that it can use to run marketing and loyalty programs for its small-business customers.”

Have any of your digital receipts gone rogue? Are you concerned that they might? Now that you know a glitch like this is possible, would you cancel the digital receipt option on your credit card?



9 Responses to “Service of Digital Receipts Going Astray: Can Square Fix the Glitch?”

  1. BC Said:

    If one buys once from Amazon, your info is out there.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Digital eyes are everywhere.

  3. ASK Said:

    Whether I pay in cash or with a credit card,I have always asked merchants for a printed receipt, not a digital one. But then, I don’t bank online either…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t bank online either but I do get digital receipts and in future will think twice. It’s a question of privacy which is increasingly impossible to maintain in the digital world. I continue to get coupons for OTC items my husband used, for example. I suppose if I don’t buy any of these things for years maybe they’ll stop offering them to me.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I had not heard of Square before your post. I would never knowingly opt for it. I have been on “The Verge of a nervous breakdown” from all endless errors and mishaps I have had from electronic banking.
    The interminable surreal phone conversations with Bank of America and it’s useless micro departments for addressing anything at all which goes wrong have run me ragged. I don’t rely on anything from saved identifications or passwords, my account number as printed on my check or my birthdate to enable me to proceed to process any task. I have no interest in sharing any further information about myself, my buying habits or contracts with any company or unknown individuals to further their interests. if I could only remove my ill/advised registration on the nightmare that is Facebook I would. To date it has proved too difficult.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My IT person uses Square [or a competitor]–a smart move so he’s paid before he leaves most offices and doesn’t waste time sending bills and running after slow-payers. Small merchants, crafts people, contractors and landscape companies are also likely customers.

    Like you, I am having trouble righting confusion with a bank. Customer service on the phone has been useless and in spite of countless Google searches–in which I have read articles galore and scoured the company’s website–with the exception of the name of a CEO who quit last week [no replacement announced] –I cannot find a single person of authority identified. It isn’t a retail bank so I can’t just trot in, plop in a chair and explain the issues.

    I like Facebook because I learn and see things I’d not otherwise know. I enjoy photos of friends’ babies, can commiserate when I read that a friend’s dear pet just died or that one is looking for jokes to read to her father who is in rehab and whose eyesight is poor. It reminds me that an acquaintance’s birthday is “today” so I can wish them a happy one or through photos I can glimpse highlights of an amazing trip.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Not familiar w/Square. It appears to be one more way to broadcast private information. Sad.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    I understand that you find those activities or that information which you gain through Facebook as pleasant, However, I do not think any of it worth sacrificing any and all details of my life and even that of people I interact with to the exposure, mishandling, misinformation, , invented charges, and scams that all are part of being on Facebook. I cannot tolerate the hypocrisy and deception of its administration and the dramatically inconsistent declarations of selectivity or censorship with regards to what they post.
    Most recently they had no difficulty in maintaining the distorted post of Nancy Pelosi appearing to be drunk or with speech problems!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Is Twitter any better? Who knows. Or Amazon?

    Even, if like me, a person refuses to bank online, each and every transaction from my bank to another or vice versa is online so whether or not I like it, all that information about me is there for all to hack.

    As for the distorted Nancy Pelosi post, had I seen it, I’d have spoken up–or rather written–to dispute it.

    Last, as people communicate so little these days–and I’m among the worst except, perhaps, at Christmas–it allows me to feel connected, if only slightly.

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