We’ve all been there, you’re checking out at Macy’s, Safeway, Walmart or, in the case of Ms. Pineda, Williams-Sonoma you’ve probably been asked for your zip code.  Most of us give this information without thinking twice.  However, Ms. Pineda sued Williams-Sonoma claiming that asking for her zip code is a violation of the Credit Card Act.  The Credit Card Act limits the amount of personal information a business can request from a person.

What’s The Problem?

Pineda contends that by combing her zip code with her credit card number and name, the retailer is able to compile a database and reverse-lookup a person’s address.  When the company has a person’s name and address they can either send them in-house marketing materials or sell that information to direct-mailing companies.

What’s The Ruling?

While the Court examined the Credit Card Act, it had an issue with some of the statute’s language.  However, the Court focused on Section 1747.08(a)(2) in which a business cannot “[r]equest, or require as a condition to accepting the credit card as payment in full or in part for goods or services, the cardholder to provide personal identification information, which the person, firm, …or corporation accepting the credit card writes, causes to be written, or otherwise records upon the credit card transaction form or otherwise.”

The Court decided that a ZIP code is personal identification information and should not be required by a company.  This ruling is different than previous courts who found ZIP codes to not be considered personal identification based on a strict ruling of the statute.  The Court of Appeals prefers its broader ruling because of the potential for businesses to “misuse personal identification information for…marketing purposes.”

You can read the entire opinion here. Pineda v WILLIAMS-SONOMA STORES

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