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In exchange for the convenience of using plastic, you also give up something some people hold dear -- privacy.Many privacy experts warn that consumers should be mindful of what they buy with plastic.Here's what a few of the major credit card issuers say about tracking purchases: Bank of America's policy discloses that it collects information about "account usage." Chase reveals, "Once you have been issued a card, we get information about you from the ways in which you use your card." According to Citi's policy, personal information it collects and may disclose includes "information about your transactions, such as your account balances, payment history, and account activity." "Once you use your credit card at a store, that code is tracked," says Steve Shaw, a strategic marketing manager for Fiserv, a company that develops online banking software to help financial institutions manage customer accounts.Shaw says banks are developing programs to track customer transactions and activities.How much do credit card issuers know about your purchases? Privacy questions "Obviously that is something that most credit cardholders are not going to think about," says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a San Diego-based privacy rights groups.

"As a general rule, the specific transaction information is not transmitted to the issuing bank.

Compu Credit agreed to a settlement that included crediting 4 million to the accounts of affected cardholders and paying a .4 million penalty.

The company did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. The recent credit crunch has placed greater emphasis on using the data to predict who may be a higher credit risk.

Shopping at large supermarkets or wholesale clubs -- which offer a variety of product lines -- may also keep some purchases private.

Other tips: Spread purchases that may indicate risky behavior over several credit cards to avoid triggering an alert for a single issuer.