| NEW YORK, Sept 20
NEW YORK, Sept 20 JPMorgan Chase & Co
has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit accusing it of
printing Social Security numbers on the outsides of form letters
mailed to customers to tell them about the bank's efforts to
protect their private information.
Filed on Thursday in federal court in Chicago, the lawsuit
accused the largest bank in the United States of violating
federal and state laws and subjecting its customers to increased
risk of identity theft.
A JPMorgan spokeswoman declined comment.
The allegations are another embarrassment for the financial
company amid a rash of civil and criminal probes, ranging from
the massive "London Whale" trading scandal to possible bribery
On Thursday, it disclosed $1 billion in payouts to settle
four civil regulatory probes..
The new lawsuit was filed on behalf of Alexander Furman, a
Buffalo Grove, Illinois resident, who said JPMorgan twice mailed
him preprinted forms with his name, address and Social Security
number on the outsides, and failed to follow up on his
The first mailing, sent around Sept. 1, was a privacy
notification explaining how JPMorgan safeguards customers'
personal information, according to the lawsuit.
Furman complained immediately and was told the bank would
rectify the situation, according to the lawsuit.
Even so, Furman received a benefit notification from the
bank about two weeks later with his social security number still
printed on the front, the lawsuit said.
COVETED BY THIEVES
"It (the bank) should have immediately notified its
customers and certainly taken steps to prevent it happening the
second time," said Elizabeth Fegan, a partner at Hagens Berman
law firm in Oak Park, Illinois, who filed the suit.
The lawsuit cited JPMorgan's own warning, in online
information about its security procedures, that a name combined
with a Social Security number is a prime way for thieves to
steal an identify.
"It's very damaging," Fegan added. "Chase even says on its
Web site that providing Social Security numbers to an identity
thief is 'as good as gold.'"
Disclosure of Social Security numbers can be especially
harmful since they cannot easily be replaced, like a credit or
debit card, the lawsuit said.
Among other violations, the lawsuit alleged that Chase broke
Illinois' consumer fraud act, which prohibits the printing of
Social Security numbers on mailings. Several states have passed
such laws to help combat identity theft.
The lawsuit seeks class action status representing any
JPMorgan customers who received mailings with their Social
Security numbers printed on the outside. It said thousands or
possibly millions of customers could be part of the class.
Fegan said she has not received confirmation from the bank
about how many customers were affected, but the forms appeared
to be mass mailings.
The case is Alexander Furman et al v JP Morgan Chase & Co et
al, No. 13-cv-06749, U.S. District Court, Northern District of