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California court: Merchants can't ask patrons for ZIPs

 


California court: Merchants can't ask patrons for ZIPs

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that merchants can no longer ask for the ZIP codes of customers who make purchases with credit cards because such requests violate a state consumer-protection law.

The high court's unanimous decision, which says a ZIP code can be used as "personal identification information," overturned two lower court decisions tossing out the lawsuit. It delivered retailers in California a setback that an attorney for one national chain said would likely lead to additional lawsuits.

The decision Thursday came in a lawsuit filed against Williams-Sonoma Inc., whose clerk asked Jessica Pineda for her ZIP code several years ago. Pineda sued the home retailer in June 2008, saying it violated the credit card law and her privacy.

"It's a terrible decision," said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on William-Sonoma's side.

Dombrowski said it's too soon to know how disruptive the ruling will be to businesses that routinely require patrons to supply their ZIP codes to authorize a transaction.

"It's fraud prevention." said Dombrowski, who added that not all California merchants make the request.

William-Sonoma and many other merchants said they ask for ZIP codes, in part, as a security precaution.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that merchants can no longer ask for the ZIP codes of customers who make purchases with credit cards because such requests violate a state consumer-protection law.

The high court's unanimous decision, which says a ZIP code can be used as "personal identification information," overturned two lower court decisions tossing out the lawsuit. It delivered retailers in California a setback that an attorney for one national chain said would likely lead to additional lawsuits.

The decision Thursday came in a lawsuit filed against Williams-Sonoma Inc., whose clerk asked Jessica Pineda for her ZIP code several years ago. Pineda sued the home retailer in June 2008, saying it violated the credit card law and her privacy.

It's a terrible decision," said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on William-Sonoma's side.

Dombrowski said it's too soon to know how disruptive the ruling will be to businesses that routinely require patrons to supply their ZIP codes to authorize a transaction.

"It's fraud prevention." said Dombrowski, who added that not all California merchants make the request.

William-Sonoma and many other merchants said they ask for ZIP codes, in part, as a security precaution.

 

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