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For Companies, Perils Abound When Soliciting Information at Point of Sale

Of all of the numbers that are part of your daily personal life, which are important enough to keep private?

Your Social Security number? Definitely. Your date of birth? Maybe — depending on how cautious (and how old) you are. What about your cellphone number? Probably, even though registering on the do-not-call list is supposed to largely insulate you from unwanted phone calls from people you don’t know trying to sell you stuff.

But what about your ZIP code?

ZIP codes are included in a category of personal information that many state consumer privacy statues restrict merchants from collecting during a point-of-sale credit card transaction. As this article discusses, while ZIP codes do aid the movement of mail between states, they also may facilitate the migration of class actions to states that protect the personal identification of their residents.