Citigroup Sued Over Data Sharing

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A law firm for a consumer who is suing Citigroup and its subsidiary, Citibank, on charges of illegally sharing credit card data said last week it has enough evidence to proceed with the case.

The lawsuit alleges that financial services giant Citigroup, New York, unlawfully disclosed the account information of Citibank credit cardholders to telemarketers and vendors. Because of this, telemarketers had access to information that allowed them to issue unauthorized charges to the cardholders' credit accounts, according to the Seattle law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll.

Keelyn Friesen, a lawyer for the firm, said the lead plaintiff went away on a trip and returned to find her credit card had been billed for a number of products she had not ordered. Citibank refused to remove the charges, and the woman was forced to seek refunds from the companies that sent the products, Friesen said.

The woman filed the lawsuit in 1999, but only now has the firm gathered enough evidence to press forward, Friesen said. The firm is still trying to identify the telemarketing agencies responsible for issuing the charges, she said.

A spokesman for Citigroup declined comment, saying the company had not seen the lawsuit. However, Friesen said a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the company was rejected by a judge in May.

The lawsuit charges Citigroup and Citibank with breach of contract, with violating the common law duty of banking confidentiality, and with violations of state laws in South Dakota, where Citibank is based. The law firm is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in Maricopa County, AZ, seeks unspecified compensatory damages from Citigroup and Citibank. It also seeks an injunction against Citigroup and Citibank banning them from disclosing cardholder account information.


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