With the recent news stories about ORCA card privacy, Choose Your Way Bellvue staff has been receiving a lot of questions about how the ORCA card collects trip information and whether an employer can track an employee’s movements. To help you better understand the ORCA card privacy issues, here is a list of the most frequently asked questions that we have received:
Is my ORCA information secure?
No personal information (name, birth date, credit card number, etc.) is stored directly on the ORCA cards. There is no way for someone who steals or finds your ORCA card to obtain this information. Any personal information is stored in a secure, confidential database that is separate from data about the card’s use. This information is only linked in the case of a customer service inquiry, such as a lost/stolen card or refund request, or to load value onto a registered ORCA card.
Can my employer see where I am going if I get an ORCA card from them?
As you have read in the newspaper, your employer does have access to reports that show trip data for the ORCA cards associated with their business account. However, this report only shows summary level transaction data (trip date, transit agency, route and time of transaction) and is not associated with any personal information (name, birth date, etc.) or even an ORCA card serial number. An employer can request to receive the card serial number for a particular trip if they suspect misuse. This request must be done in writing and include a valid reason for the request. If the request is granted then the employer will be given the serial number of the ORCA card. It is up to each employer to determine if they are going to link ORCA card serial numbers with the name of the person using that card.
Why does the ORCA card collect trip information?
The ORCA program collects data that is necessary for calculating the correct fare and distributing that fare revenue accurately between the 7 participating agencies. They also use aggregate data from revenue collection and distribution to track regional travel patterns to assist with future transit service design. Individual card data is uses by the ORCA agencies only to assist with customer service inquiries, such as loss/theft or refund requests.
Is there anything I can do if I don’t want any personal data collected by ORCA?
You have a number of options for maintaining anonymity when using the ORCA system.
- Talk to your employer: If you receive an ORCA card from your employer, you can contact them directly about your concerns. Employers set their own policies about ORCA card privacy and the information they can access.
- Use a personal card: Your employer has no access to any data collected on an ORCA card you obtain personally.
- Use an unregistered personal card: Every ORCA card user has the option to not register their card and this allows a customer to use the card anonymously. The drawback to having an unregistered card is that there is no way to transfer your funds to a new card if yours is lost or stolen.
- Pay cash: You can continue to use cash for all transit rides on all seven transit agencies. However, interagency transfers are no longer accepted unless a customer is using an ORCA card.
Still have questions? Post a comment and TransManage staff will be happy to help!