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§8.06 Song-Beverly Credit Card Act—Prohibitions

Lesson 8:
Credit Cards

A credit card issuer may not do any of the following:

  • Discriminate in issuing credit cards. [CC §1747.80.]
  • Knowingly issue false credit information [CC §1747.70(a)] or issue unfavorable credit information because the holder claimed a billing error [CC §1747.70(b)].
  • Cancel or refuse to issue a credit card because the holder obtained relief for billing errors. [CC §1747.70(c).]
  • Cancel a card without first giving the holder 30 days’ written notice, with specified exceptions. [CC §1747.85.]
  • Process or obtain payment of a credit card charge through a retailer’s account with a financial institution if that retailer did not furnish or agree to furnish the goods and services that are the subject of the charge. [CC §1748.7.]

Retailers and others who accept credit cards for business transactions may not request personal identification information, such as the cardholder’s address and phone number, and then record that personal information on the credit card transaction form. [CC §1747.08(a).] Nor may retailers request and record personal e-mail addresses as part of a credit card transaction. [Powers v Pottery Barn, Inc. (2009) 177 CA4th 1039, 1045 (federal CAN-SPAM Act does not preempt application of Song-Beverly to retailerís collection of e-mail from its credit card customers).] A retailer also may not request a credit card user’s zip code because a zip code constitutes personal identification information within the meaning of the statute. [Pineda v William-Sonoma Stores, Inc. (2011) 51 C4th 524, 527–528 (disapproving Party City Corp. v Superior Court (2008) 169 CA4th 497, 517–518, to the extent it is inconsistent); Folgelstrom v Lamps Plus, Inc. (2011) 195 CA4th 986, 990.] Retrospective application of Pineda did not violate due process rights or constitute a manifest injustice in Alvarez v Brookstone Co., Inc. (2011) 202 CA4th 1023, 1029–1031.

Personal identification information, however, may be requested in specified instances, e.g.:

  • When processing a refund for the return of merchandise purchased by credit card. [Absher v AutoZone, Inc. (2008) 164 CA4th 332, 340–346.]
  • A retail motor fuel dispenser or retail motor fuel payment island automated cashier may require a Zip Code solely for prevention of fraud, theft, or identity theft. [CC §1747.08(c)(3)(B); see CC §1747.02(n), (o).]
  • When a credit card is being used as a deposit to secure payment in case of default, or for cash advance transactions. [CC §1747.08(c)(1)–(2).]
  • During online purchases in which the product is downloaded electronically. Apple Inc. v Superior Court (2013) 56 C4th 128, 140–141, 150.
  • During a pre-enrollment process for a store’s voluntary rewards program. [Gass v Best Buy Co., Inc. (2012 CV-11-01507) 279 FRD 561, 572.]

A retailer may also require a cardholder to provide reasonable forms of positive identification, including a driver’s license or a California state identification card, provided that the retailer does not record any of the information on these forms of identification. Additionally, if the cardholder pays for the transaction with a credit card number but does not make the card available on request to verify the number, the cardholder’s driver’s license number or identification card number may be recorded. [CC §1747.08(d).]

Retailers may not impose a surcharge on a consumer who elects to use a credit card instead of paying by cash, check, or similar means. Retailers may, however, offer discounts for the purpose of inducing payment by cash if the discount is offered to all prospective buyers. [CC §1748.1(a).]
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