(CN) – Federal identity-theft protections, which bar merchants from including credit card numbers and expiration dates on printed receipts, do not extend to emailed receipts, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.
The federal appeals court in Seattle joined the 7th Circuit and a “solid majority” of District Courts in finding that the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) applies only to receipts physically printed by a vendor at the point of purchase.
Passed by Congress in 2003 to combat identity theft, the act prohibits merchants from printing receipts that include the last five digits of a consumer’s credit card number or the card’s expiration date.
After purchasing travel arrangements from the website Expedia.com, Dimitriy Simonoff received a receipt via email that included his credit card’s expiration date. He sued Expedia for violations of the credit transactions act, but U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik of Washington’s Western District ruled for Expedia.
On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the ruling, finding that the terms of the act apply only to physically printed receipts and not those that appear on the screens of smart phone or computers.
“In enacting FACTA, Congress did not use language that would have clearly extended FACTA’s protection to electronically mailed receipts,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the unanimous panel.
“For example, Congress could have applied FACTA to ‘electronically printed or transmitted’ receipts, to ‘electronically printable’ receipts, or to ‘electronically displayed’ receipts. Congress, however, chose not to do so, even though it has referred to digital methods of communication and commerce in numerous other statutes. We can’t fill in the blanks with words that Congress didn’t supply.” (Emphasis in original.)
The issue was one of first impression for the 9th Circuit. As McKeown pointed out, however, the 7th Circuit reached a similar conclusion in 2010, finding that to include electronic receipts within the act’s scope would broaden it beyond Congress’s original intent.
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