By Val Walton of The Birmingham News
Lawsuits filed in Birmingham’s federal court in recent months claim that popular restaurants, a movie theater chain and a ticket ordering service have violated a law that limits the amount of credit card information companies can print on customers’ receipts.
The lawsuits are part of a flurry that have been filed nationwide. Lawyers filing the lawsuits say they are targeting businesses that put individuals at risk for identity theft by willfully not complying with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
The lawsuits say retailers may not print more than the last five digits of a person’s account number, or the card’s expiration date, on a receipt. The law was passed in 2003, but most businesses, depending on the equipment used to generate receipts, had until at least December 2006 to comply, according to the lawsuits. Jay Aughtman, a plaintiff’s lawyer, said most consumers are not aware of the statute which was passed as part of the Bush Administration’s war on terror.
“We have seen a number of businesses, retailers, for whatever reason, violate the statute on a regular basis,” said Aughtman with the law firm of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery.
The lawsuits have been filed between this past summer and October, and were filed against Rave Motion Pictures, Boston Ventures, LP; Surin West restaurants and Ticketmaster.
The lawsuit filed against Surin West Inc. claims that Bijan Iradji on one or more occasions bought food and drink items there using his credit or debit card. The lawsuit said the restaurant printed more than the last five digits of the card and the expiration date of his credit card on the receipt.
C. Lee Reeves of the Birmingham law firm Sirote & Permutt is representing Surin West. He said the restaurant does not believe it is liable, and has done no wrong, Reeves said.
Efforts to reach attorneys for Rave and Ticketmaster were unsuccessful.
Lawyer Micah S. Adkins, who is handling the Surin lawsuit with Rick Bearden, said people affected by the alleged violation could number in the thousands. The plaintiffs’ attorneys also include lawyers with the Lamb Firm.
Aughtman, who is among the lawyers handling lawsuits against Rave and Ticketmaster, said the businesses have passed the deadline for coming into compliance. Aughtman said the cut-off date was December 2006. In a lawsuit against Ticketmaster, plaintiff Irma Jackson claims Ticketmaster printed the expiration date of her credit card on the receipt on Jan. 5.
“These lawsuits are not being filed prematurely,” Aughtman said. “We’re almost at December 2007.”
Attorneys are seeking class-action status, damages and fees. The act provides from $100 to $1,000 for each violation.