The Zip Code Law

Last week the California Supreme Court declared it illegal for businesses to request zip codes from customers in order to complete a sales transaction. The Wall Street Journal reports that as a result, large numbers of consumers have begun suing major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Crate & Barrel, Victoria’s Secret, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

In the original decision against Williams-Sonoma Inc, the high court determined that zip codes are part of a person’s “personal identification information” and as a part of their addresses are covered by the state’s 1971 Credit Card Act.

The consequences to retailers for following the new law are hefty fines levied by the state. According to the WSJ:

State law sets a maximum $250 for the first violation and $1,000 for each further violation, exposing retailers to potentially millions of dollars in liability. The amount of penalties awarded would be determined by a judge.


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