Do you think that asking for a person’s zip code could ever result in a privacy violation? If your answer is no and you are collecting information from a resident of the District of Columbia, think again. A lawsuit was recently filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia accusing of Urban Outfitters, Inc. of asking for zip codes in a way that implied the information was required for a credit card application. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that a retailer could be sued under Massachusetts privacy laws for collecting zip codes in connection with credit card transactions.
An expectation of privacy in a person’s zip code hardly seems appropriate or a cause for concern, but these cases underscore a theme when addressing privacy concerns. Transparency will be your best defense to a claim that a company violated a person’s right to privacy. Tell the consumer what information you are collecting and how you will use it. In today’s day and age, being transparent about what would appear to be innocuous information could save a company from a lawsuit over its data collection practices.