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SeaWorld Alleged to Be Fishing for Zip Code Info

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San Diego, CAYour zip code is private information and savvy marketers in the digital age can use that information to generate a detailed profile of your shopping habits, the kind of car you drive, provide information about how much you earn and a lot more.

There’s even a black market out there where professional data thieves sell new identities generated from private information gathered through unscrupulous means.

California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act specifically prohibits businesses from collecting zip codes, phone numbers, addresses or any other kind of personal information during credit card transactions, to protect consumers from having to disclose private information that might be used in a nefarious way.

Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of that law. So when the cashier at SeaWorld in San Diego asked for Andrew Dremark’s zip code, he complied. Only later did he learn his privacy was being invaded.

Not only did SeaWorld collect Dremark’s zip code for its files, it routinely collected zip codes from everyone who used their credit card on a visit to the world-famous sea park.

“They are collecting information about the consumer that has nothing to do with the credit card transaction,” says attorney Tim Blood from the law firm of Blood, Hurst and O’Reardon.

“People hand over the zip code information because they think it is something that is necessary for the credit card transaction, but it isn’t,” he adds.

Blood has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Dremark and other consumers who used credit cards at SeaWorld, alleging breach of privacy.

“Once this information is out there - it is out there for good,” says Blood. “If a company takes personal information and sells it, there is no control over where that information goes. And the more of your personal information that is out there, the more detailed personal profile can be created about you,” says Blood.

“Businesses try to argue that no one cares about this kind of information, but if it wasn’t valuable, they wouldn’t be collecting it,” says Blood.

There is more and more reason to be watchful about personal information, advises Blood. “We’ve seen an increasing number of data breach cases,” he says referring to the relatively recent case where hackers snatched passwords from Sony Play Station users. “People wonder why that is such a big deal, but people often use the same passwords over and over, and if your Play Station password is the same one you use for online banking, that can be trouble. They can drain your bank account.”

SeaWorld has yet to respond to the allegations in the suit.

Tim Blood is the senior partner at Blood, Hurst and O’Reardon. He has represented millions of purchasers of food, food supplements and over-the-counter drugs arising out of false advertising claims made by manufacturers. He is well known for his record settlement case against the makers of Dannon Yogurt. He has also represented owners of motor vehicles in product liability cases, and consumer credit and mortgage borrowers against a number of major lending institutions, including Bank of America, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, GMAC and Wells Fargo.


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