• FACTA Truncation—Which Credit Card Numbers Can Be Redacted?
  • May 11, 2012 | Author: Stephanie A. Broder
  • Law Firm: Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Jacksonville Office
  • The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) requires truncation of credit card numbers on electronic receipts, specifically providing that the receipt must not display “more than the last 5 digits of the card number.” In Straaten v. Shell Oil Products Company LLC, No. 09 C 1188, defendant vendor was sued in a class action for violating FACTA because it did not print the final four digits of the number visible on the credit card, but rather the last four digits of what it designates as the primary account number (which are the first nine numbers shown on the card). The vendor moved for an interlocutory appeal of the district court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment, presenting the question of whether the terms “card number” and “primary account number” are interchangeable.

    FACTA does not define the term “card number,” and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit did not particularly care about a definition, noting that the purpose of FACTA, in limiting the amount of exposed digits on a receipt, was to avoid identity theft. The class representative did not assert that she, or any member of the class, was injured or damaged in any way; nor was the class put at higher risk of identity theft based upon the vendor’s selection of digits. Only the statutory penalty of $100 - $1,000 per consumer for willful failure to comply with FACTA was sought, which could have resulted in over $1 billion in penalties.

    The Seventh Circuit held that the vendor’s reading of FACTA was not “objectively unreasonable,” in light of the lack of any definition for the term “card number” and an absence of any increased risk to the customer. Thus, the court held that the vendor did not “willfully” violate FACTA, and it was not necessary to decide whether it had violated FACTA at all.

    Download to read: Straaten v. Shell Oil Products Company LLC, No. 09 C 1188 (7th Cir. Apr. 18, 2012)