This Holiday Season, Know Your Shopping and Privacy Rights
'Tis the season for family, friends and gift-giving---and probably like me, you find yourself reaching for the plastic, or what may (or may not) be a good deal online. While it can seem so easy and even fun, there are pitfalls that can follow this seemingly painless process.
As a legislator, I have a long record of fighting for consumer and privacy rights. So with the holiday shopping season upon us, I wanted to make sure you are aware of the rights you have as a consumer.
Gift cards can't expire: As the result of California law, merchants are required to provide cash back to the holder of any gift card valued at less than $10. Gift cards also cannot expire or be charged a service fee.
No merchant may charge more than the displayed price: Pay attention to what you're charged at the checkout. If you are charged more than the advertised price, report it to a manager right away. By law, you are entitled to the lowest posted price by the store, even if it is expired.
Privacy protections for in-store credit card purchases: When you make a purchase with a credit card at a brick-and-mortar store in California, employees are not permitted to ask you for information such as your home address, zip code, phone number or email address. Providing this information may compromise your privacy and allow merchants to collect your information or target you with marketing materials. An exception to this allows the collection of zip codes for purchasing gas at the pump for the purpose of fraud and identity theft prevention.
Unfortunately, these protections do not apply to online credit card transactions, which is why I am the author of Senate Bill 383 to extend these privacy protections to online transactions.
As we make more purchases online, it's important that we become more aware of how our privacy can be compromised and our personal information can be misused. So as you finish up (or perhaps are just beginning) your holiday shopping, be wary of practices that take your personal information or violate your rights as a consumer.
While this is the season for good cheer, family and friendship, there are those who don't share in the same spirit of goodwill. And rest assured that I will continue to make consumer privacy protections a legislative priority.
If you have any comments or thoughts, please feel free to contact me by email or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Happy Holidays to you and yours,
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
State Senator, 19th Senate District