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Curious About Credit Cards & Zip Codes

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

I’m curious…In my local paper (the Enterprise) there was a wire-service story stating that the California Supreme Court ruled 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.   (Zip codes can be used for “personal identification information”  What is the status of such “usage”  in Mass. The trend “seems” to be “growing ” here in Mass.  – Jack, Brockton

It probably doesn’t mean much here in Mass., at least according to consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky, the head of

The Calif. Supreme Court interpreted the Calif. law that protects personal identification information as including zip codes because you can tell where a person lives by the zip code.

However, Mass. law about personal information specifically spells out what is considered  “personal information” and zip codes aren’t among them.

Here’s the section of law that Edgar sent me, so you know what I mean:

“Personal information, a Massachusetts resident’s first name and last name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements that relate to such resident: (a) Social Security number; (b) driver’s license number or state-issued identification card number; or (c) financial account number, or credit or debit card number, with or without any required security code, access code, personal identification number or password, that would permit access to a resident’s financial account; provided, however, that “Personal information” shall not include information that is lawfully obtained from publicly available information, or from federal,state or local government records lawfully made available to the general public.”

Of course the legislature can always change the law.

What do you experience when you shop?  Do the cash register people ask you for your zip code, phone number????  And what do you think about that?


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