In Massachusetts, Stores Can’t Ask For Your Zip Code

Photo (cc) by Sam Howzit

Ever have a store clerk ask for your zip code when you go to pay? Or wondered why? A class-action lawsuit against Michaels has resulted in a statewide ban of this obnoxious retail practice.

When you swipe your card, retailers get your name and the card number, but not necessarily much else. (That’s what loyalty programs are for, right?) The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Melissa Tyler, a customer who said the craft store chain used her zip code to look up her home address and phone numbers to make sales pitches.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in her favor and she got $25, according to The Patriot Ledger. The court decided asking for zip codes to identify contact info violated a state consumer protection law which prevents companies from asking for personal information unless it’s needed for shipping. California’s the only other state to treat zip codes as personal information, according to LowCards.com.

The company’s lawyers argued their policy is meant to prevent identity theft. The court disagreed, basically ruling that, no, it’s actually to allow you to annoy people.

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