Attorney Bradley Muro wrote a guest editorial for Chain Store Age that is worth reading. For retailers who may be too busy to look up the article, here’s a recap: State laws regarding consumer privacy could cause retailers to run afoul of the law simply by asking their customers for information about themselves.
Huh? Yep, fines can run up to $250 for the first violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations. Got your attention yet? Good. This sounds worth paying attention.
“A number of states, including both California and New York,” Muro wrote, “prohibit the collection of, or even the request for, personal information in connection with a credit card transaction.” Such information includes the basics — addresses and phone numbers. The laws are so restrictive, according to the attorney, that businesses cannot even use credit-card forms that contain blank spaces where a customer would ordinarily fill in an address or phone number — even if the forms are not filled in or the blank spaces are not labeled.
Exceptions include situations where personal information is necessary — for delivery, for example.
Tomorrow, for those who don’t go straight to Chain Store Age to read Muro’s piece, I’ll go over his suggestions for protecting yourself.
Muro is a partner at Danziger & Danziger LLP in New York.