Howard’s Appliances Pays Fine for Putting Customers at Risk for ID Theft

For Immediate Release
May 15th, 2002
Contact: ADA Joe D’Agostino
(714) 347-8726

Howard’s Appliances Pays Fine for Putting Customers at Risk for ID Theft

SANTA ANA — Howard’s Appliances Inc. has settled a lawsuit with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for putting customers at risk of identity theft.

This week, Howard’s Appliances agreed to pay $15,000 to cover penalties and the cost of investigating their case during the past six months. The retailer sells and services a variety of household appliances in Southern California. Four of the stores are in Orange County: Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, La Habra and Laguna Hills.

The basis of the lawsuit was Howard’s practice of recording customers’ personal identification information on credit card slips. Writing information such as a driver’s license number, address or phone number on the slip is unlawful because it puts consumers at risk for identity theft. Retailers are permitted to look at a customer’s driver’s license or other identification, but they are not permitted to write it down unless it is need for delivery orders or servicing of products.

The case began when the District Attorney’s Office received a complaint from a consumer. Prosecutors sent an undercover investigator into Howard’s to make a purchase and verified that the information was being recorded. The retailer had been doing this for four years.

Howard’s cooperated in the DA investigation and no known cases of identity theft have occurred within the stores.