Monday, August 20, 2007

Apple Online Lawsuit Brings to Light Another Threat of Identity Theft

A recent lawsuit alleges Apple Store is not in compliance with Fair Credit Reporting Act, thereby making it easier for identity thieves to gather more personal information on consumers.

All businesses need to heed this as an example of things to come and protect their clients' personal information in any way that they can after a class action lawsuit, case number 07-22040, was brought against Apple Store online last week in Florida Federal Court alleging that the stores violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a federal law designed to help ensure that consumer reporting agencies act fairly, impartially, and with respect for the consumer's right to privacy when preparing consumer reports on individuals.

In 2003, an amendment was added that states, "No person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of businesses shall print more than the last five digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the card holder at the point of sale or transaction."

It was this amendment that Apple Store online was violating. Apple Store was apparently printing credit card expiration dates on the receipts, in addition to the other personal information. Companies were given a three-year grace period to comply with the law and the cost is so miniscule to make the change that most have made the change well in advance of the deadline. Apple Store, as of last week, was still not in compliance.

Identity thieves are getting smarter and smarter. Consumers must stay one step ahead and protect themselves from the financial devastation of identity theft. Consumers expect businesses to uphold the law and do what they can to protect personal information they acquire.

While no proof of a specific identity theft has stemmed from Apple Store's non-compliance, it is a recipe for disaster that reminds consumers to take every precaution when making an online purchase or any purchase with a credit card. The federal government has made efforts to protect citizens from identity theft but consumers must be on the offense and take matters into their own hands.

Place yourself in a situation to protect your personal information from theft and learn to practice fire prevention versus firefighting.