The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a March 11 decision ruled that collecting and recording a consumer’s zip code as part of a credit card transaction violates a Massachusetts privacy law. According to the decision, zip codes are “personal identifying information” under Section 105(a) of Chapter 93 of the General Laws of Massachusetts, which protects consumers from the unnecessary collection of personal information to complete a credit card transaction.

Nutter Notes: Even though a zip code does not directly identify a consumer, the court found that it can be combined with other information enabling merchants to identify the consumer’s address and telephone number which is information that Section 105(a) expressly identifies as “personal identification information.”