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Collecting customer ZIP codes violates state privacy law, Massachusetts high court rules

Posted Mar 13, 2013 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Massachusetts' top court has ruled that consumers whose ZIP codes are retained by retailers in the state can sue for a violation of state privacy law.

The decision issued Monday by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court paves the way for a would-be class action against Michaels Stores, the Patriot Ledger and the National Law Journal report. The court ruled in response to certified questions by a federal judge considering the consumer lawsuit.

The suit claims Michaels used ZIP code information to look up customers' phone numbers and addresses so the retailer could send them marketing materials. State law bars companies from requesting personal information unless it is needed for shipping or it is required under the credit card agreement, the Patriot Ledger says.

The court said a ZIP code can be considered “personal identification information” under the law, and a plaintiff may sue for a violation of the statute absent identity fraud.

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