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9th Cir: Emailed Receipt Not an Electronically-Printed Receipt

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By Robin Enos on June 09, 2011 6:47 AM

When is an emailed receipt not a "printed receipt," for purposes of the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA)?

A unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that, where FACTA limits information to be included on a "printed receipt," an electronically-transmitted email message acknowledging a transaction is not a "printed receipt."

Dmitriy Simonoff sued Expedia, an Internet travel website, for violation of FACTA. The alleged violation was that Expedia included Simonoff's credit card expiration date on an email acknowledging a travel purchase.

FACTA, enacted in 2003, prohibits printing "more than the last 5 digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale or transaction."

And the prohibition applies only "to receipts that are electronically printed."

Judge M. Margaret McKeown, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, reasoned that, absent a specific definition in the statute, "printing" means many different technologies, "all involving the making of a tangible impression on paper or other tangible medium."

Thus, reasoned the Court, under FACTA, a receipt that is transmitted to the consumer via email and then digitally displayed on the consumer's screen is not an "electronically printed" receipt "issued at the point of sale," as the statute requires.

Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the trial court's granting Expedia's motion to dismiss. This all comes down to legislative intent.

Under this new ruling, if Congress did mean to protect emailed receipts from credit card number and expiration date disclosure, it will have to amend FACTA to say so.

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