June 13, 2013 Articles

Mass. High Court: ZIP Codes Are "Personal Identification Information"

The Massachusetts SJC follows in the footsteps of the California Supreme Court.

By Michelle Doolin, Darcie Tilly, and Lindsay Parker – June 13, 2013

On March 11, 2013, in Melissa Tyler v. Michaels Stores, Inc., 464 Mass. 492, 984 N.E. 2d 737 (2013), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), in responding to three certified questions from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, held: (1) ZIP codes constitute personal identification information (PII); (2) a person may bring an action under General Laws, chapter 93, section 105(a) absent identity fraud; and (3) the term “credit card transaction form” “refers equally to electronic and paper transaction forms.” The questions arose out of a class-action lawsuit against Michaels for allegedly requesting and recording its credit-card customers’ ZIP codes in violation of section 105(a). This decision has parallels to the California Supreme Court decision in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., 51 Cal. 4th 524 (2011). In Pineda, the California Supreme Court held that ZIP codes were PII.

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