Calif. merchants can't ask for ZIP code
A 1990 law was intended to protect consumers' privacy, court rules.
Does it annoy you when a store cashier asks for your ZIP code? If so, and if you live in California, you'll be glad to learn the state Supreme Court has upheld a 1990 law that makes it illegal to do so.
The law prohibits merchants from requesting and recording a credit card holder's "personal identification information." The court ruled that such information can include not only a telephone number or street address but also a ZIP code.
Violations carry a $1,000 fine.
Justice Carlos Moreno wrote in his opinion that the law was intended to protect consumer privacy by barring retailers from "soliciting and recording information about the card-holder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction." Post continues after video.
The ruling resulted from a suit filed by an aggrieved consumer, Jessica Pineda. She was asked for her ZIP code while making a purchase at a Williams-Sonoma store and supplied it. Later she began receiving Williams-Sonoma mailings and learned that the store had used her ZIP code and name to track down the rest of her address and put her into its database.
The ruling does not affect online businesses, which must, after all, know your ZIP code if they're going to ship your purchase to you.
Nor does it affect those annoying automated gas pumps that insist on knowing your ZIP code before filling your tank. The reason? That request goes directly to the bank that issues your card and is not retained by the service station.
Oh, and by the way, a store clerk can still ask a cash customer where they live.
More from ConsumerAffairs.com and MSN Money:
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