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OFF BEAT: Deli patrons to get free drinks out of ID theft settlement


Patrons of Des Moines, Iowa-based Palmer's Deli & Market would get a free soda with their $5 order as part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit alleging that Palmer's printed receipts that exposed customers to identity theft.

First, however, patrons would have to prove they were a customer of the deli chain between June 3, 2008, and May 30, 2011.

The lawsuit filed last June in Des Moines federal court reportedly alleges that Palmer's willfully broke a 2003 federal law that requires truncating credit card numbers and expiration dates on printed store receipts.

The suit accused the chain of exposing customers to possible identity theft by printing full card expiration dates on its receipts.

The U.S. Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act requires merchants to pay $100 to $1,000 for each “willful violation” of its rules.

The settlement proposal filed Monday would avoid the need for plaintiffs attorneys to prove the violations were “willful,” but also would avoid financial ruin for Palmer's, which processed nearly 754,000 credit and debit card transactions at its five locations during the relevant dates, according to court papers.

Among other terms of the proposed settlement, two plaintiff law firms would receive $170,000.

But customers are going to have to decide whether a free soda is worth all the effort required to either dig up the original store receipt or find the credit card statement showing the transaction.