Use a card, lose your privacy?

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ScriptRelief makes its money by receiving "a few dollars" from drugstores for every transaction involving its cards, McCabe said. Pharmacies apparently are betting that they'll still come out ahead by getting new customers through the door.

McCabe insisted that even though ScriptRelief is co-owned by a marketing company, it doesn't sell or share card users' personal information. "That's absolutely not how we make money," he said.

The ScriptRelief privacy policy, however, tells a different story. It says that "we may share your information with other companies whose products and services may be of interest to you."

"We may share your information with our other businesses and affiliated companies," it also says. "We may combine the information that we collect from you with information that you provide to us in connection with your use of our other products, services and websites, or information we collect from third parties."

I pointed this out to McCabe. He said the privacy-policy language was there just for legal reasons.

"Marketing attorneys are funny like that," he said.

They are. Yet ScriptRelief's privacy policy clearly gives the company — and, by extension, Loeb Enterprises — the ability to profit from people's personal information.

So take your choice: You can believe the assurances of a company spokesman that your privacy is safe. Or you can believe what's laid out in a legally binding contract that your personal info can be shared at any time.

As best as I can tell, these prescription discount cards aren't a scam, though it seems unlikely you'll get as large a discount as promised. If you have insurance, I'd stick with that. If not, such cards may be worth a try.

But keep in mind that these cards are being offered by a marketing company, and that company has gone to elaborate lengths to keep you from knowing of its existence or what it may do with your information.

There is an unattributed quote prominently featured on Loeb's website. It says:

"A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one."

The quote is from Heraclitus of Ephesus, an ancient Greek philosopher. I'm not exactly sure what it means.

But I take it as a warning.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. he also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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