California Court Forbids Zip Code Queries

Class action lawyers are targeting Tiffany & Co. and a
host of other retailers after the California Supreme Court ruled that asking
for customer zip codes violates a state law governing credit cards.

Class action lawyers Jeffrey Krinsk of Finkelstein &
Krinsk told
Reuters
his firm recently filed a class action suit against Tiffany &
Co. over its zip code policy. Suits have also been suits filed against 20 other
retailers, including Target, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret, the news agency
said.

The move comes after the California
Supreme Court ruled in
Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores
that requesting a customer’s zip code violates the state’s Song-Beverly Credit Card
Act.

The case was filed in June 2008 by California resident Jessica Pineda, who bought an item
at Williams-Sonoma, and was subsequently asked her zip code by the
cashier. “Believing she was required to provide the requested
information to complete the transaction, plaintiff provided it,” the court
wrote.

According to the court, Williams-Sonoma used computer
software to match the plaintiff’s name and zip code with her previously
undisclosed address, providing the retailer information for its database. That
database is then used to market products and is sold to other businesses, the
court said.

The Supreme Court
concluded that zip codes constitute “personal identification
information” and noted the law forbids inquiring for such information.

This decision overturns a previous decision in favor of
Williams-Sonoma by a California Court of Appeals.