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California merchants may not ask customers using credit cards for their ZIP codes, state Supreme Court rules

California merchants may not ask customers who pay with credit cards for their ZIP codes, the California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday.

In a case closely watched by retailers, the state high court said ZIP codes were "personal identification information," which a state law bars businesses from demanding of customers.

The class-action lawsuit against Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc. was brought by a woman who contended that Williams-Sonoma asked her for her ZIP code when she purchased an item with her credit card. She said the store used her name and ZIP code to identify her address and then stored the information in a database for marketing. She also contended the store had the ability to sell her information to other businesses.

Two lower courts rejected the suit, but the California Supreme Court said a ZIP code was part of a person's address and therefore covered by the state's Credit Card Act.

"The Legislature intended to provide robust consumer protections by prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction," Justice Carlos R. Moreno wrote for the court.

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-- Maura Dolan

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

Anyone who finds a store asking them for a ZIP is to personal is stuck on stupid. The store is not trying to find out where you live but to learn where their market is. What city's around them are coming to their store more. Why? Because it allows them to say maybe we need to put a store in this city and or maybe we need to do more marketing to this city because they are a bulk of our revenue. Anyone who owns a company wants to know where their businesses revenue is coming from so they can spend their money better.

Also, if anyone here says it was to verify a card then you are ignorant. In a retail environment AVS is not required because there is a swipe device involved. What the person on the counter is suppose to do is check your Driver License to ensure that the name on the credit card matches your license. The only time AVS is required is for non face to face such as Online or over the phone transactions.

 
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