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Class Claims ACT & College Board Sell Students’ Social Security Nos.

CHICAGO (CN) - ACT and The College Board sell high school students' personal information, including Social Security numbers, to third parties at 33 cents a head, a class action claims in Federal Court.

Lead plaintiff Rachel Specter sued ACT Inc. and The College Board, the company behind the SAT and Advanced Placement tests.

ACT and The College Board administer the ACT and SAT tests to more than 1.6 million high school students each year, the complaint states. For college-bound students, taking the ACT or SAT is not optional, the complaint states.

"In the regular course of their business, defendants obtain and possess a consumer's PII [personally identifiable information], such as their name, home address, self-reported grade point averages, educational background, interests, date of birth, test scores, Social Security number, phone number, etc.," Specter says in the lawsuit.

"The defendants deceived the plaintiff and the class by masking the sale of the plaintiff and class' PII under the guise of 'sharing,' i.e., the defendants ask whether the plaintiff and class (who at the time were under the age of majority) would like their PII 'shared' with other outside agencies. In reality, the defendants 'sell' the plaintiff's and class' PII for substantial profit - on information and belief approximately $.33 per student, per buyer - to hundreds if not thousands of 'buyers' per year who purchase the plaintiff's and class' PII from the defendants. In some instances, the defendants sell the PII to organizations whose purpose it is to re-sell the lists to additional third parties." (Parentheses in complaint.)

The ACT requires a student to affirmatively opt out of the sharing program, while the SAT's opt-in approach allegedly induces minor students to allow their information to be shared with third parties.

"The fact that SAT sells the plaintiff's and class' information to third parties for monetary gain is at no time disclosed to the plaintiff or class," Specter claims.

She concludes: "The PII of the plaintiff and class is of the sort that both the United States Congress and the Illinois State Legislature have sought fit to protect and secure from disclosure, let alone sale for monetary gain. The defendants engaged in said conduct for purposes of circumventing these laws with one goal in mind: profit."

Specter seeks class damages of more than $5 million for breach of contract, misappropriation of confidential information, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act.

She is represented by Larry Drury.

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