Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Patrick Diegnan, Annette Quijano and Daniel Benson sponsored to prohibit return policies that require scanning a consumer’s driver’s license or other form of identification was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.
“Consumers should never have to sacrifice their privacy and the security of their personal information in order to return a product,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By limiting the merchant’s access to a customer’s information, this legislation will help reduce the risk of identity theft for everyday consumers in New Jersey.”
The bill (A-3065) would prohibit retailers from scanning, photocopying or otherwise retaining a copy of a consumer’s identification card, such as a driver’s license or non-driver photo ID card, if he or she wishes to return an item.
In addition, any retailer requiring patrons to present identification for returns would be required to post a sign denoting the requirement in a location where it would be easily visible to customers, such at the entrance or near the cash register. If a retail establishment uses return data concerning the frequency or dollar amount of a person’s returns as a basis to deny a return to that person, the establishment also would be required to conspicuously post that information.
“At the very least, customers have the right to know – as soon as they walk in the door – whether a store will require identification for a return,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Having the merchant make that kind of information available before the consumer even makes a purchase can mitigate any discrepancies or misunderstandings that would otherwise arise between the two parties.”
“By prohibiting the scanning of personal identification and requiring transparency regarding ID policies, this bill will enable consumers to make informed decisions about the safety of their personal information,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This legislation can go a long way toward preventing some of the millions of identity theft cases that ruin lives each year.”
“A return policy that requires consumers to put personal information at risk can dissuade people from exchanging defective products or other legitimate returns,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Eliminating that requirement will help ensure that consumers have a reasonable means of resolving retail problems without sacrificing their security.”
Violators of the bill’s provisions would be subject to a $2,500 fine for the first offense and $5,000 for any subsequent offense.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, of which Moriarty is chair.