January 7, 2008 / 8:51 PM / 11 years ago

Sears accused of violating consumer fraud law

The Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, seen in this November 17, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/John Gress

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co has been hit with a lawsuit seeking class-action status that alleges a company Web site compromises customers’ private information.

The suit, filed last Friday in Circuit Court in Cook County, Illinois, states that the retailer’s managemyhome.com site allows users to view purchase histories of Sears customers by entering public information such as a name or street address, in violation of a state Consumer Fraud Act that forbids “unfair or deceptive” practices.

A Sears spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit on Monday. Sears, Roebuck is a unit of Sears Holdings Corp, which is based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

But in a statement e-mailed to Reuters on Friday, when a consumer blog featured an entry raising concerns about the Sears site, the retailer said it had “turned off the ability to view a customer’s purchase history on Manage My Home until we can implement a validation process that will restrict access by unauthorized third parties.”

The complaint, which seeks class-action status and millions in damages, said the data available at the Manage My Home site could be used to commit fraud and obtain even more sensitive customer data such as social security numbers.

“There’s so many scary situations where people could easily trick you into getting more personal information or gain access to your home for improper purposes,” said Jay Edelson, partner at KamberEdelson LLC, which filed the lawsuit.

Shares of Sears Holdings fell $2.62, or 2.58 percent, to $98.80 in late afternoon Nasdaq trading on Monday.

Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Richard Chang

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