Home Credit Reporting Blog Verizon Wireless, Alltel defy class-action suit over credit privacy

Verizon Wireless, Alltel defy class-action suit over credit privacy

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Plaintiffs’ lawyers have found a new weapon to pursue class-action consumer litigation against the mobile-phone industry: the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Get Your Business Credit Report in Seconds!Verizon Wireless and Alltel Corp. are facing class-action lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Georgia federal courts, respectively, based on alleged noncompliance with the law.

Under 2003 amendments to the FCRA, businesses that accept credit cards or debit cards for payment are required to significantly limit account information on printed receipts given to customers. The law directed merchants to meet new guidelines by early December 2006. Generally, the FCRA governs the collection, dissemination and use of consumer credit information.

During the signing of the bill amending the FCRA on Dec. 4, 2003, President Bush stated, “This bill also confronts the problem of identity theft. A growing number of Americans are victimized by criminals who assume their identities and cause havoc in their financial affairs. With this legislation, the federal government is protecting our citizens by taking the offensive against identity theft.”

With Verizon Wireless and Alltel servicing more than 65 million and 12 million subscribers, respectively, the financial implications of the class-action suits are potentially massive.

Under the FCRA, a consumer is entitled to a maximum of $1,000 in statutory damages, plus actual damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if a court finds willful noncompliance with the law.

“Although defendants had up to three years to comply, defendants have willfully violated this law and failed to protect plaintiff and others similarly situated against identity theft and credit card and debit card fraud by continuing to print more than the last five digits of the card number and/or the expiration date on receipts provided to debit card and credit card cardholders transacting business with defendants,” stated the lawsuit against Alltel.

In court filings, Alltel and Verizon Wireless have denied allegations in the lawsuits.

The law “does not require the person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of business to truncate the account numbers appearing on the receipt as well as deleting the expiration date. One or the other … suffices with” the statute, Alltel stated. The carrier added: “Plaintiff cannot show that she suffered any actual damage as a result of the allegations contained in the complaint. Namely, plaintiff has not alleged nor can she prove that her identity was stolen as a result of any printed receipt she received from Alltel.”

Verizon Wireless told the court it “did not commit any wrongful act against plaintiff and/or members of the putative class. Accordingly, Verizon Wireless is not responsible for any alleged damages to plaintiff and/or the members of the putative class.”
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 November 2011 12:10 )