President Bush yesterday signed into law a bill prohibiting class-action lawsuits against merchants that once put payment card expiration dates on customer receipts. The U.S. House and Senate approved the legislation last month (CardLine, 5/15 and 5/21). The Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act of 2007 does not exempt merchants that fail to truncate credit or debit card numbers on receipts. Moreover, merchants that print expiration dates on receipts after June 3 also are not exempt, according to Bart Murphy, a partner at Ice Miller LLP, an Indianapolis-based law firm that represents several merchants facing lawsuits for including expiration dates on receipts. Penalties in those cases range from $100 to $1,000 per violation. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, itself an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, prohibits businesses from printing expiration dates and requires them to truncate credit and debit card numbers so electronic receipts show no more than five digits. The act represents a "get-out-of-jail-free card" for merchants facing lawsuits filed before June 3, Murphy says. Merchants still are prohibited from printing expiration dates on receipts following June 3. The act does not remove the threat of a lawsuit if they do, Murphy explains. The new law also does not remove the legal liability for merchants that failed to truncate card numbers on receipts. The act means pending lawsuits related only to printing expiration dates on receipts before June 3 likely will be dismissed, Murphy says. This law is a "fix" to prevent plaintiff class-action attorneys from cashing in on technical violations of the act, known as FACTA, Murphy previously told CardLine. About a year ago, some law firms filed a series of lawsuits in which they alleged violations of the act and sought class-action status in Illinois and Chicago.

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