The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
In 2003, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) to help protect consumers against identity theft. FACTA requires merchants to print no more than the last five digits of your card number on the receipt given to you at the time of the sale.
If you look at a receipt given to you, your card number should look something like this: ACCT: ***********12345
In this example, you can see that all but the last five digits have been removed or redacted. If you’re given a receipt that shows more than the last five digits, you may have a FACTA claim. FACTA allows consumers to collect either actual damages or between $100 and $1,000. Consumers can potentially collect punitive damages as well as attorney fees and costs.
If you have a receipt that shows more than the last five card numbers, you should immediately contact us at Chhabra Gibbs & Herrington. We’re experienced FACTA lawyers who can give you the best advice on what to do next. Our number is 601-948-8005.
History and Reasoning Behind FACTA
In 2003, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held six hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which included the topic of “the emergence and impact of identity theft on the credit granting and reporting systems.” S. Rep. 108 at 6 (October 17, 2003).
The hearings revealed that “[p]erhaps the most significant development since the passage of the 1996 amendments was the emergence and impact of identity theft.”
Quoting the testimony of the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the Senate Committee concluded, “[I]t is vitally important to address measures which will help prevent identity theft and to punish identity thieves.” One such measure was requiring merchants to truncate credit and debit card numbers because truncation “limit[s] the number of opportunities for identity thieves to ‘pick off’ key card account information.”
The Senate was not alone in investigating identity theft. On September 4, 2003, the U. S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services recommended the passage of H.R. 2622 (FACTA). H.R. Rep. No. 108-263 at 1 (September 4, 2003). Before discussing any other reason for recommending FACTA’s passage, the House Committee cited the need to “provide consumers with the tools they need to fight identity theft.” The House Committee found that identity theft had “reached almost epidemic proportions” with the FTC fielding over 160,000 calls about identity theft in 2002 alone.
Recognizing that stopping identity theft before it happens is of paramount importance, the House Committee established goals and objectives for FACTA, which included that “appropriate Federal regulators will use the authority granted in this bill to combat the growing problem of identity theft by assisting consumers in preventing identity theft and in mitigating its consequences once the crime has occurred.”
On December 4, 2003, President Bush signed FACTA into law stating, “[T]his law will help prevent identity theft before it occurs, by requiring merchants to delete all but the last five digits of a credit card number on store receipts. Many restaurants and merchants have already adopted this practice. All will now do so.” 39 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 1748 (Dec. 4, 2003).
FACTA provides, in pertinent part, that merchants “shall [not] print more than the last 5 digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale or transaction.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g)(1). Congress gave merchants a “reasonable opportunity” of three years to comply. S. Rep. 108-166, at 13 (October 17, 2003).
In 2008, Congress passed the Credit and Debit Card Receipt Act of 2007 (“Clarification Act”). Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act of 2007, PL 110–241, June 3, 2008. In the Clarification Act, Congress reiterated the importance of truncating card numbers. “Experts in
the field agree that proper truncation of the card number, by itself as required by the amendment made by [FACTA], regardless of the inclusion of the expiration date, prevents a potential fraudster from perpetrating identity theft or credit card fraud.”
Indeed, Congress made the truncation of the card number a centerpiece of FACTA because the card number is the “single most crucial piece of information that a criminal would need to perpetrate account fraud.” 154 Cong. Rec. H3730 (2008) (Rep. Mahoney).
If you or a loved one believes they have a FACTA claim, contact Chhabra Gibbs & Herrington PLLC at 601-948-800. Consultation is Free and there is no obligation.