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Legislation Would Help Protect Retailers

Published May 22, 2008

WASHINGTON D.C. (BRAIN)—The National Retail Federation praised the Senate for this week's passage of legislation that would protect retailers and restaurants from frivolous lawsuits over credit card expiration dates printed on customers' receipts.

"If the National Retail Federation says this is good for retailers, it probably is," said Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association. "Expiration dates and frivolous lawsuits—always a bad combination in my book."

The legislation would protect merchants from lawsuits for expiration dates printed between the time a rule in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) went into effect in December 2006 and the time the measure is signed into law. But merchants would still be required to both truncate card numbers and leave off expiration dates going forward.

"The confusing manner in which this provision was written has caused hundreds of retailers and restaurants to inadvertently run afoul of the law," NRF senior vice president and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. "The vast majority of merchants made a good faith effort to comply with the law by truncating credit card numbers but were unaware of Congress' apparent intent that expiration dates be omitted. Including expiration dates on receipts has done nothing to put consumers at risk, but opportunistic attorneys have nonetheless seized on this ambiguity in the law to file lawsuits that threaten innocent businesses with hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. This legislation will put a stop to that effort to shake down America's merchants."

The bill says a business that printed an expiration date on a receipt over the past 18 months cannot be found in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act as long as the merchant truncated the customer's credit card to no more than the last five digits and complied with other FCRA requirements.

The measure now heads to President Bush for his signature.

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