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SAY NO TO NOSY MERCHANTS

"Please write your address and telephone number on the charge slip . . ."

Sound familiar? Officials at American Express, MasterCard and Visa as well as the Bankcard Holders of America -- a Washington, D.C., consumer group -- say that shoppers can't be required to jot down such personal data.

Providing the information is more than just an invasion of privacy; it opens you to the possibility of becoming a victim of credit-card fraud. A merry thief could copy your credit-card number, address and phone number and then charge wildly.

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