Darden Slapped With FACTA Suit Over Restaurant Receipts

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Law360, New York (June 1, 2017, 5:39 PM EDT) — Darden Restaurants Inc. was hit with a proposed class action in Florida federal court Wednesday alleging that the company behind popular restaurants like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse violates the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act by printing payment card expiration dates on customers’ receipts.

Rosie Romero’s complaint alleges that Darden has been sued before for failing to comply with FACTA requirements, but still doesn’t comply with the statute, opening diners up to an increased risk of identity theft by including too much information on their receipts.

“By shirking the requirements of a federal privacy statute by not complying with the receipt provision, defendant has caused consumers actual harm, not only because consumers were uniformly burdened with an elevated risk of identity theft, but because a portion of the sale from credit or debit card transaction is intended to protect consumer data, including the masking of credit card or debit card expiration dates as required by both state and federal laws,” the complaint says.

The complaint explains that Congress enacted FACTA in 2003 to combat identity theft, barring merchants from printing more than the last five digits of a credit or debit card number and from including expiration dates on receipts provided at the point of sale or transaction.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, where Romero lives, ranks number one for identity theft-related consumer complaints, with about 316 complaints per 100,000 people, according to data from a Federal Trade Commission report, the complaint alleges.

Most of Darden’s competitors make sure their credit and debit card receipt printing process complies with FACTA’s truncation requirement, Romero says, noting that the company can’t deny prior knowledge of the act, having been sued for the same violation alleged here in a 2007 Illinois suit.

In fact, not only was Darden informed in this way not to print cards’ expiration dates, but the company is contractually prohibited from doing so, since it accepts cards from all major issuers, which detail requirements merchants must follow, like FACTA’s redaction and truncation requirements, the complaint alleges.

Yet, when Romero went to Darden’s Bahama Breeze restaurant in Pembroke Pines, Florida, in late March, the receipt she received included her credit card’s expiration date, the suit says. The consumer believes Darden does the same at other restaurants, including Olive Garden and LongHorn, pointing out that the company uses the same point-of-sale equipment at all of its locations.

By including the full expiration date on receipts, Darden allows would-be identity thieves to easily determine whether the cards are still active and valid, allowing them to narrow their focus to the most viable targets, the suit alleges.

Darden also invaded Romero’s privacy by disclosing her private information to restaurant employees who handled the receipts, as well as other people who might find them in the trash or elsewhere, the complaint claims.

Romero seeks to represent a class of all people in the United States who used credit or debit cards at a Darden restaurant and were given receipts that included the expiration date within the last two years.

She requests statutory and punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Representatives for the parties didn’t immediately return requests for comment Thursday.

The consumer is represented by Scott D. Owens of Scott D. Owens PA, Bret L. Lusskin of Bret Lusskin PA, Keith J. Keogh of Keogh Law Ltd. and Jibrael S. Hindi of the Law Offices of Jibrael S. Hindi.

Counsel information for Darden wasn’t immediately available Thursday.

The suit is Romero v. Darden Restaurants Inc., suit number 0:17-cv-61098, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.