Is it legal for a business to take customer information from their personal checks?

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Is it legal for a business to take customer information from their personal checks?

A business is taking customer details including name and address and adding it to a mailing list. The customers are not informed that their information will be used in such a way. Is this a form of spam? Is it legal? The information is not being sold to any other groups however it is being used to promote this particular business.

Asked on June 5, 2011 under General Practice, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A business *may* use for its own marketing purposes any information it receives from customers, whether such information is provided explicitly or as information to enable payment, so long as it does not violate any applicable laws in relation to "spam" or other prohibited advertising. This is, in fact, the main way that business traditionally obtained this information and created their own internal mailing lists, in the years before online ordering, which such ordering would require the prospective customer to explicitly fill out an internet form containing information usuable for marketing purposes. Obviously, the business is liable for any ill-effects, criminal usuage, etc. made of personal information which it retains in its files and uses.


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