BofA settling class action lawsuit

Bank of America (BofA) has proposed a settlement of a $14 million class-action lawsuit that involves alleged privacy violations. Approximately 35 million current and former BofA customers are eligible to collect part of the settlement.

The lawsuit was filed in September 1999 alleging that BofA engaged in unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices by disclosing personal, private and confidential information of consumers without their consent, and without making proper disclosure.

Social Security numbers, account numbers and other sensitive data was turned over to telemarketers, direct-mail marketers and various other vendors for millions of dollars in fees and commissions.

The lawsuit alleges that despite assurances in BofA’s privacy policy that the information was secure and confidential and that it was only shared for ‘legitimate business purposes,’ it was made available to others.

BofA denies all the allegations, but the settlement says BofA has made changes to various privacy policies, their web site and the procedures for customers to opt out of having personal information shared with others.

$10.75 million will be spent on waiving fees for certain bank products and services and to provide several months of credit monitoring services to protect people from identity theft. $3.25 million will be contributed to privacy related programs and other nonprofit consumer advocate groups.

The BofA privacy policy was changed to read that customers info may be shared with joint marketing partners. Customers now have to call (888) 341-5000 to opt out of the information sharing.

Anyone who had a consumer credit card, a personal checking or savings account at a BofA bank or a personal loan or mortage from BofA between Sept. 9, 1995 and May 31, 2007 is eligible to participate.

In order to participate in the lawsuit, you must have a claim submitted by Oct. 1, 2007. To file a claim you can call (800) 462-2317 or go to bankprivacycase.com:

  • Consumer privacy home – https://bankprivacycase.com/
  • To submit a claim form – https://bankprivacycase.com/Claim.aspx
  • Frequently asked questions – https://bankprivacycase.com/FAQ.aspx
  • Court documents – https://bankprivacycase.com/CourtDocuments.aspx

If you’d like to be excluded from the settlement so you have the ability to sue BofA over privacy issues raised in this lawsuit, you have to contact the bank by mail at P.O. Box 4098, Portland, OR 97208 by August 15, 2007.

All the claims will be paid on a first come, first served basis. Once the money allocated for the settlement runs out, that’s it. The settlement is expected to receive court approval by September 2007.

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