The last time we gathered here in our Retail Strategies space, you met Bradley Muro, a New York attorney whose guest editorial in Chain Store Age warns that retailers can be fined for violating consumer privacy and data protection laws on the books in some states. (There are some federal laws along these lines, too.)
Breaking the law can occur quite innocently — just by asking customers for personal information in the wrong way. Muro suggests three steps retailers can take to help them stay on the friendly side of the law.
First, if you are going to ask your customer for personal information, do it after you’ve finished the sales transaction. Second, use a separate sheet from, say, a credit card form, to gather customer information, such as address and phone number. Finally, if you are gathering customer information, keep it in a separate place from your point-of-sale location.
Probably one of the smartest moves to make is to find out what the law is in your state.
“Any violation of these laws, and any overreach in gathering information on consumers,” Muro writes, “can lead to stiff penalties. Knowing your customers is now, and will always be, a critical function of any business. But protecting yourself by knowing the law and avoiding ruinous legal suits is also important for companies.”
Muro is a partner at Danziger & Danziger LLP, New York.