What Information Can Retailers Store When They Scan Your ID For Returns?

(CBS Sacramento)

(CBS Sacramento)

For years, we’ve been writing about the now-rapidly growing practice of retailers scanning IDs when customers make returns. It’s never been clear exactly what information is taken when your card is swiped, but we now know that the data could basically include everything on your driver’s license.

According to The Retail Equation (TRE), the company that provides this ID-scanning and anti-fraud database service, it uses “several pieces of information from IDs to ensure accurate consumer identification… Typically, this includes identification number, name, address, date of birth and expiration date.”

However, when CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming asked the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles about what information can be legitimately be pulled off the card, he was told… everything.

If the info is on the stripe, it can be collected. That means your name, address, birth date, hair and eye color, height and weight.

The DMV says that it’s completely legal for stores, and TRE, to collect and store this information so long as it’s under the heading of “fraud prevention.”

One area lawmaker thinks that definition is a little too open to interpretation.

“To say you’re using that information or taking that information to prevent fraud, you can use that argument for just about anything,” said state Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo, who adds that his investigation into the matter of ID-scanning by retailers hasn’t turned up any instances of abuse.

We agree with Sen. Hill’s belief that stores who require IDs for returns should make it known to consumers that this is store policy.

“If you don’t want to purchase from that retailer, then you can go someplace else to do it,” says Hill.

Several stores do print this policy on their receipts at checkout, but to us that is too late in the transaction process to properly inform the consumer.