FACTA Class Action Suit Offers Cautionary Tale on Customer Receipt Data


Among the many measures included in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) upon its enactment in 2003 was a line that required businesses to truncate credit and debit card numbers on customer receipts. Now, almost seven years after FACTA lawsuits went out of style, a class action case has been filed alleging noncompliance with the law, this time over a seemingly minute, but potentially devastating misread on the part of one major company. Attorney Thomas Zimmerman filed suit earlier this year in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in the case of Mario Aliano and Nguyen Buren, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated v. Airgas USA, LLC and Airgas, Inc.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the plaintiffs received, from Airgas, a "computer-generated cash register receipt which displayed the last four digits of the plaintiff's credit card number as well as the card's expiration date." This sounds fine at first, but the relevant section in FACTA provides that "no person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of business shall print more than the last five digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of sale or transaction."

So, while FACTA required card number truncation, it also provided that a business could only include those last few digits of the card number or the card's expiration date, but it couldn't include both of them.

If they haven't already, all companies should check to make sure that their receipts are being printed according to every letter of FACTA's terms. Though the class action suit is ongoing, even without proof of loss, credit card and debit card users can, according to statute, recover damages in an amount not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each act of willful noncompliance. These damages under FACTA are not capped, so a retailer could be liable for up to $1,000 per transaction even without any proof of loss by the customer.



- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer

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