California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act prohibits the requesting and recording of personal information in connection with credit card transactions. The statute provides for civil penalties "not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for the first violation and one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each subsequent violation . . ." Recently, two new trends in Song-Beverly litigation have emerged: (1) plaintiffs have filed suits against retailers over requests for zip codes; and (2) plaintiffs have sued retailers for requests for personal information during credit card return transactions.

During the past several years many retailers conducting business in California have been sued for requesting personal information such as phone numbers and addresses from purchasers paying with credit cards. The statute defines "personal information" as "information concerning the cardholder, other than information set forth on the credit card, and including, but not limited to, the cardholder’s address and telephone number." Cal. Civ. Code § 1747.08(b). Rt cases have expanded the types of conduct plaintiffs have alleged violates Song-Beverly.

First, several plaintiffs have filed lawsuits based on requests for zip codes. In fact, in the last weeks plaintiffs have filed three new class actions in San Diego alleging violations of Song-Beverly based on retailers requests for zip codes during credit card transactions. To date, no published decision has addressed whether a request for a zip code violates Song-Beverly.

Second, many plaintiffs are now suing retailers for requesting personal information during transactions related to the return of merchandise.  A petition is currently pending before the Fourth District Court of Appeal related to such a lawsuit.  A ruling is expected in the next 30 days.

For further information, please contact John Dineen at (619) 338-6609.