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Cashiers Can Ask for Customers’ ZIP Codes

(CN) - Cashiers who ask for customers' ZIP codes at checkout do not violate the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, because the information requested isn't protected "personal identification information," a California appeals court ruled.

Consumers filed a class action against Party City Corporation, claiming one of its employees violated the Act by asking for and recording a customer's ZIP code. They claimed the company used the information to gain an edge on competitors, and said the practice made them vulnerable to identity thieves.

The Act bans merchants from asking for personal identification information and recording that information. It carries a $250 penalty for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

The 4th District Court of Appeal agreed with Party City that the trial court misinterpreted the law on several grounds, including the definitions and purposes of ZIP codes.

A ZIP code provides "generalized group location identification," rather than personal identification about the cardholder, Justice Huffman concluded.

The court granted summary judgment to Party City.

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