One's Social Security number is an important identification tool and is used by various regulatory agencies and businesses to identify an individual. However, it is also an important tool for identity thieves who are looking to commit fraud by accessing somebody's financial accounts or any other account. This is why financial institutions in Michigan and elsewhere are required by law to take certain actions to prevent the Social Security numbers of their customers from identity theft. Unfortunately, one bank seems to have failed to do this which could result in consumer class actions against the financial institution.
The defendant bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., is being accused of exposing its customers' Social Security numbers on the outside of form letters the bank had mailed to customers. Ironically, the form letters informed customers regarding the financial institution's efforts to safeguard their private information. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court and alleges that the financial institution had violated federal and state laws.
The new complaint is being filed on behalf of a man who claims the financial institution mailed him these pre-printed forms with his Social Security number, name and address on the outside for anybody to see. After the first mailing the man immediately complained and was told by JP Morgan that the bank would make the situation right. However, two weeks later the bank again mailed another notification which contained his Social Security number printed on the front.
The case could turn into a class action lawsuit involving possibly millions of customers affected by the bank's alleged mistake. On the other hand, just like any other businesses facing consumer class actions in Michigan or in any other state, the company will have a chance to defend itself in the court of law. However, a defendant facing any type of commercial litigation will have to be sure to understand the applicable laws. The defendant will then have to present a strong legal argument in court in order to prevail.
Source: Reuters, JPMorgan Exposed Social Security Numbers On Mailing About Bank's Privacy Efforts, Lawsuit Claims , Dena Aubin, Sept. 20, 2013