Ask For Your Customer’s Zip Code? It’ll Cost You A $1,000 Fine

Posted on: September 30th, 2011 by Leaders' Choice Staff No Comments

handcuffs and money 1We’ve all been on the other side of cash register, buying some item at a retail store when the cashier asks, “Can I have your zip code please?” And of course you comply. Why not?

Because, if this transaction took place in California, that business just ran afoul of a recent California Supreme Court decision and could cost the retailer a thousand dollar fine… Per incident!

To make matters worse for the retailer, the fine is most likely not covered by general liability business insurance. 

While this is not a Workers’ Compensation Insurance issue, when I heard about the 2011 California State Supreme Court decision on Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc.  I wanted to give a my current and potential clients a shout-out. I mean, at a thousand bucks a pop, just a couple of days and a few hundred customers being asked for their zip code … Ouch!

Why? Here’s the back story: In 1971 the state passed the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act prohibiting businesses and retailers who do credit card transactions from collecting and data basing personally identifiable information that is not a part of the actual transaction… for example; a zip code.

Bottom line — If it’s not on the credit card you can’t ask. You can still ask to see ID but, (and it’s a big but), you cannot write the address down or database it. That runs afoul of the law and can cost your business a thousand bucks…  each and every time.  The recent Pineda decision ruled that yes, this was the law and pay up!

So. Here is quick advice from me to you. If you do any retail business in our great state of California:  

1)    Don’t ask. Not for marketing purposes, not for security purposes, just don’t ask.

2)    If you have security issues you can ask to see a driver’s license but don’t record anything. Just look at the bad picture, see if it’s close, and move on.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but it is the law. So if you’re been doing it, you may want to seek legal counsel and no matter what…STOP.

At Leaders’ Choice we are committed to helping your businesses bottom line. Our average new clients saves an average of 30% on new Workers’ Compensation Insurance rates over their current rate.

Contact Leader’s Choice and ask us a question and let us help you match your particular business classification with the best matching carrier for the lowest rates. The good news is that it won’t cost you anything!