In 2003, Congress amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act by enacting the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”). FACTA prohibited merchants that accept credit cards from printing more than the last five digits of the card number or the expiration date on any receipt at the point of the sale or transaction. Many class action lawsuits were subsequently filed seeking the statutory damages provided FACTA. Because of the high number of lawsuits filed and the ambiguity regarding whether FACTA prohibited the mere printing of a card’s expiration date, in 2008 Congress passed the Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act (“CDCRCA”) to shield merchants that had included expiration dates on receipts prior to June 3, 2008 from FACTA liability.

The enactment of CDCRCA lead class action lawyers to turn to the Internet for plausible FACTA claims. For example, in late 2009, the plaintiff in Shlahtichman v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc., filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois claiming that, as part of his Internet credit card purchase in June 2009, he received a receipt on his personal computer that displayed his credit card’s expiration date. Although he suffered no actual injury as a result, he sought the $1,000 per receipt statutory damages on behalf of himself and similarly situated plaintiffs.

The District court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that electronically displayed e-mail confirmations are not protected by FACTA because they are neither “electronically printed” nor provided “at the point of the sale or transaction.” This is the first decision from an Illinois federal judge refusing to apply FACTA to an Internet transaction.

Shlahtichman v. 1-800 CONTACTS Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 1:09-cv-4032, 12/2/09.