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Court Says California Stores Can't Ask Customers For ZIP Codes 461

Hugh Pickens writes writes "CNN reports that the California Supreme Court has ruled that retailers in California don't have the right to ask customers for their ZIP code while completing credit card transactions, saying that doing so violates a cardholders' right to protect his or her personal information, pointing to a 1971 state law that prohibits businesses from asking credit cardholders for 'personal identification information' that could be used to track them down. '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,' the decision states. 'We hold that personal identification information ... includes the cardholder's ZIP code.' In her lawsuit, Jessica Pineda claimed that a cashier at Williams-Sonoma had asked for her ZIP code during a purchase — information that was recorded and later used, along with her name, to figure out her home address by tapping a database that the company uses to market products to customers and sell its compiled consumer information to other businesses."
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Court Says California Stores Can't Ask Customers For ZIP Codes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:36AM (#35170548)

    I have noticed many gas stations around here now require you to enter your zip code when you pay at the pump. I assume it's an extra validation against the zip code on your credit card.

  • Re:Worse is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fishead ( 658061 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:41AM (#35170590)

    There's a store in my neck of the woods, Princess Auto. They ask my phone number every purchase. I used to politely decline (and they'd always politely accept) until I was with a neighbour who returned something without a receipt. They asked his phone number, and promptly exchanged the item. With a store that touts "No sale is final until you are happy", I love giving them my number as they store a transaction a lot longer then I hang onto a receipt. I have abused and returned all sorts of tools without a receipt since then.

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:52AM (#35170650) Homepage Journal

    There are always exceptions, but for regular Brick & Mortar retailers, asking for ID is not inside the regs.
    I acknowledge, they are often ignored. here is the link-- the quote is from page 428

    http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/visa-international-operating-regulations-main.pdf [visa.com]
    Supplemental Identification - U.S. Region
    A U.S. Acquirer must not, as a regular practice, require a Merchant, and a Merchant must not require a
    Cardholder, to provide any supplementary Cardholder information as a condition for honoring a Visa
    Card or Visa Electron Card, unless it is required or permitted elsewhere in the U.S. Regional
    Operating Regulations. Such supplementary Cardholder information includes, but is not limited to:
      Social Security Number (or any part thereof)
      Home or business address or telephone number
      Driver's license number
      Photocopy of a driver's license
      Photocopy of the Visa Card or Visa Electron Card
      Other credit cards

  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:04AM (#35170736)
    If someone steals your wallet, they have your credit card, and they have your zip code. Not very secure.
  • Re:FINALLY... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:06AM (#35170742)

    In her suit, Pineda claimed that a cashier had asked for her ZIP code during a purchase -- information that was recorded and later used, along with her name, to figure out her home address. Williams-Sonoma did this tapping a database that it uses to market products to customers and sell its compiled consumer information to other businesses.

    Note that it is still legal for a business to ask your ZIP code and possibly other information. What is made illegal:
    1. conditioning the sale on obtaining data which are not necessary for completing the sale transaction
    2. recoding a data which is not absolutely required for completing a sale transaction.

    At least this is how I interpret:

    It is not illegal in California for a retailer to see a person's ZIP code or address, the ruling notes: For instance, one can request a customer's driver's license to verify his or her identity. What makes it wrong is when a business records that information, according to the ruling, especially when the practice is "unnecessary to the sales transaction."

  • Re:FINALLY... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by techwreck ( 1992598 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:26AM (#35170828) Homepage

    The credit card company is assuming the risk, not you. Since when did Master Card have the power to deputize you and turn you into a mini police detective? They set up a system, it's their responsibility to ensure that their business model works. For that they earn billions of dollars, and you don't.

    While it would be nice if that was the case, it isn't. If someone walks out of my store with a $500 laptop computer paid for with a stolen credit card, I'm out the merchandise and the revenue when the actual card owner issues a chargeback. Think all I have to do is provide a signed charge slip to get my money back? Then you probably have never experienced the joys of attempting to do battle with a credit card company. Part of the reason that they earn billions of dollars and I don't is because they have entire departments dedicated to putting the burden of risk on the merchant and not the card issuer.

  • by Potor ( 658520 ) <farker1@gmail. c o m> on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:29AM (#35170840) Journal
    When I am forced to give my zip at a terminal, I ALWAYS hit random numbers. My card has never been refused.
  • Postcode (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:56AM (#35170968) Journal
    It's even more fun when you don't actually live in the US and are just visiting. They typically get very confused when you start saying letters.
  • Re:Worse is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:03AM (#35171008)

    One day some years ago I went to Dixons in the UK to buy a modem. For those that know about the UK and Dixons - yes, I needed it there and then, there's no way I'd have gone if it wasn't an emergency!

    Anyway, picked up box from shelf, went to counter to pay for it. The box was a dummy and they had to get the real thing from out back. Like a fool, I paid. I paid in cash. Then they couldn't find it, so I said "fine, I'll take this other one", which I think was a couple of quid more expensive.

    Then they had to process a refund.

    "OK sir I'll just need your name, address and phone number"
    "Well you won't be getting them"
    "I need them or the computer won't process the refund"
    "Oh, well... do you want me to get the manager?"
    "Please do"

    "What's the problem here?"
    "Well you don't have the item I just bought with cash and I'm not giving you all my details to process the refund"
    "Oh, well we need something to put in the computer" (facepalm)
    "As far as I'm concerned you've just taken my money, I want it back. NOW"
    "But the computer"
    "Make something up, what the hell do I care?"

    She then proceeded to press some buttons, and then asked me again "So I'll need your name" at which point I crumbled and I started making shit up. The problem is not just marketing/data collection people. It's also moronic shop staff.

  • Re:"I'd rather not." (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Techman83 ( 949264 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:03AM (#35171010)
    I know one of the stores here in Australia, use the Zip (Post Code here) to decide whether it's worthwhile building stores in new areas. If enough people are willing to travel 50ks to shop there, then more will shop local if it's available.
  • Re:Worse is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 11, 2011 @03:00AM (#35171214) Homepage Journal

    I used to live in the inner city, in a very mixed neighborhood (the most expensive zip code was 1/2 mile one way, the least 1/2 mile the other way; I was geographically middle class), there was an awesome barber shop. It was run by two young bothers from Eastern Europe, political refugees. Best political conversations ever (and yes, the did kill some people), and enough pictures of Al Pachino to emasculate anyone. Always threw in a good old fashion hot soap and straight razor shave. Nothing like having a man hold a straight razor to your throat talking about partaking in violent revolution.

    When I was in a small mountain town, going to school I couldn't go to the good old boy barber because I liked my hair long and scruffy. But there was a male barber shop run by a couple of women. They would give you the straight razor shave and a neck massage (not at the same time).

    Now I live in some newish suburbs, and there isn't a non-chain barber around. Except the place aimed at dapper high school jocks (you want the QB cut?). Its a sad thing. Its a good thing I hate hair cuts, and alway give instructions to cut it so it can grow out for six months.

  • Re:gas pumps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dlgeek ( 1065796 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @03:12AM (#35171260)
    I have - right after a move, I forgot whether or not I had updated that particular card and guessed wrong. The machine bounced the card and locked into a "See attendant to complete transaction" mode. I drove up to the next machine and swapped cards just to be sure.
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Friday February 11, 2011 @04:37AM (#35171570)

    Why is fraud such a problem in the US? Is it because credit card companies are lax with their security? I'm being devil's advocate a little here because I have been a victim of fraud an identity theft in N. American, and now having moved to Europe, I see how pathetic standards and security is in N. America.

    It's a pain in the arse visiting the US and not being able to use my credit card easily to fill up my rental car because the pump requires a zip code to accept the card. Nowhere else I've been does this. Why?

  • Re:Worse is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rickwood ( 450707 ) * on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:32AM (#35171772)

    You could always use the U.S. standard.

    "I'll just need your name and address."

    "Sure! Jonathon Shade, 1060 W Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613."

    Which, for anyone who doesn't know is the address for Wrigley Field in Chicago, famously used by Elwood Blues on his driver's license in The Blues Brothers. Subsequently used by thousands of geeks when they just wanted to buy some electronics parts from Radio Shack, et al. for cash without giving their name and address.

    I'm not sure what the U.K. equivalent would be. The only address I could find for Wembley Stadium didn't have a numeric address that might throw people off the scent. Using the garage over the road at 11 S Way wouldn't have the same effect.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.