Consumers’ privacy continues to shrink, whether as a result of Internet search engines tracking every click and purchase, or because corporate conglomerates track every personal detail of every purchase people make. In response, many consumers do their best to guard their privacy by not sharing personal information with retailers or other companies. Unfortunately, many retailers have reacted by resorting to deception, and one of the main ways they do so is by asking for a ZIP code from consumers making credit card purchases. Thinking the ZIP code is required as a fraud-prevention device, many consumers respond truthfully. But retailers do not need a consumer’s ZIP code to complete the transaction; instead, they record it for their own marketing purposes. Using commercially available databases, retailers match customer names and ZIP codes to identify their home mailing address, where they subsequently send intrusive and wasteful junk mail. In fact, customer ZIP codes can be the lynchpin that allows retailers to discover our most intimate shopping habits and other personal information. According to CNNMoney:
Every time you mindlessly give a sales clerk your zip code at checkout, you’re giving data companies and retailers the ability to track everything from your body type to your bad habits. That five-digit zip code is one of the key items data brokers use to link a wealth of public records to what you buy. They can figure out whether you’re getting married (or divorced), selling your home, smoke cigarettes, sending a kid off to college or about to have one. Such information is the cornerstone of a multi-billion dollar industry that enables retailers to target consumers with advertising and coupons. Yet, data privacy experts are concerned about the level at which consumers are being tracked without their knowledge — and what would happen if that data got into the wrong hands. (http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/18/pf/data-privacy/index.html)
We are actively pursuing class actions against retailers who ask consumers using credit cards for their ZIP codes. If a retailer asked you for your ZIP code and you later received junk mail from that retailer, please contact us to discuss your legal options.