Proposed Settlement For BoA Selling Your Private Information: $200 Off Your Next Mortgage!

The proposed settlement for a class action lawsuit against Bank of America that would affect everyone who has ever had a checking or savings account with them since 1995 is pathetic. In return for selling your private information without your knowledge, and depending on your account, you can get: $200 off your next mortgage with Bank of America! OR…

• Fees waived for deposited items getting returned!
• Fees returned for calling customer service!
• 12 months free subscription to a credit card protection service (a $30 value)!
• 90 free days of Privacy Assist Identity Theft Protection Service (a $17.85 value)!

Also, BoA will donate $3.25 million to “promote privacy-related projects.”

Kenley, a reader who’s been following the case, writes, “First they will turn a profit on every settlement voucher they redeem. Second, and maybe more important, they guarantee that almost nobody in America can sue them for past violations of privacy law. For this peace of mind, they are paying the victims practically nothing and the class attorneys up to $4 million. “

Instructions for objecting to the settlement are as follows:

If you’re a Class Member, you can object to the settlement if you don’t think any part of the settlement is fair, reasonable or adequate. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter stating that you object to the settlement. Be sure to include (1) the name of this lawsuit, Consumer Privacy Cases, J.C.C.P. No. 4211; (2) your full name, current address and telephone number; (3) the reasons you object to the settlement; (4) proof that at any time between September 9, 1995 and May 31, 2007, you had (a) a Bank of America non-business checking or savings account, (b) a non-business loan with Bank of America secured by residential real estate, or (c) a Bank of America consumer credit card and had a California mailing address for purposes of communicating with Bank of America, and (5) your signature. Mail the objection to these three different places so that they are received no later than August 15, 2007:

COURT
Clerk of the Court
San Francisco Superior Court
400 McAllister St
San Francisco, CA 94102

CLASS COUNSEL
Bonny Sweeney
Lerach Coughlin, LLP
655 W. Broadway
Suite 1900
San Diego, CA 92101

DEFENSE COUNSEL
Arne Wagner
Calvo & Clark, LLP
1 Lombard Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

The Judge is Hon. Richard A. Kramer, (415) 551-3729

More information on the suit along with official documents at BankPrivacyCase.com.

(Photo: sour.patch)

Comments

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  1. enm4r says:

    Let’s be honest, that’s a lot of work to object to a suit I didn’t even know was going on. Though I agree, the offer is pretty weak considering they are wiping their liability slate completely.

    I’ll just wait until the end and collect whatever is offered. Nice move on BoA though, offer the mortgage deal so they have to get the mortgage through you, and so the redemption rate is ridiculously low!

  2. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    I’ll just wait until the end and collect whatever is offered.

    That’s really – well, you make me sad.

  3. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Why is there a giant white space at the top of this story?

    Anyway, you can blame this on the judges. Yes, the judges, not the lawyers. Very few judges that handle these cases object to these settlements, which typically reward just about everyone except for the members of the class action.

    Sometimes the judges say “this is ridiculous” but very rarely.

    EVEN WORSE is that the plaintiff lawyers, who are supposed to monitor future compliance with the settlement, typically do a terrible job since they have already been paid.

  4. mantari says:

    Something like this was nixed in the proposed Netflix settlement when many consumers complained (and were represented by legal counsel).

    The issue at hand: to turn a settlement into a promotional vehicle for new business is unethical, at the very least.

  5. Skeptic says:

    Class actions that result in a credit towards a future purchase are always bullshit. Cash refunds are the only way to go.

    A “punishment” of a $200 discount on a lucrative mortgage is like punishing a rapist by making him offer free sex to his victim. MS tried this BS in its education monopoly antitrust suit when it wanted to settle in the form of giving away free MS software instead of cash.

  6. latemodel says:

    This is the standard sort of compensation. When GM built millions of trucks with gas tanks that leak in a side impact, the class action settlement was a coupon for $2000 off a new truck.

  7. Thrust says:

    Lets say I’m a Bank of America customer (long stretch since Im not even American, isn’t fantasy fun?). They sell my private information (typical settlement in the mid 50k range), leave me open to countless harrassments and identity thefts, but I get a whole motherfarking $200 off my next mortgage. An item which rarely runs under $70K. Holy Fucksticks batman, thats like 0.0029 percent off my mortgage. Weeeeeeeeee!

  8. clarient says:

    I just closed my checking and savings accounts with BoA and moved to Frost because BoA sucks. They were trying to charge me a $20 monthly ‘maintenence fee’ because my balance had fallen below a minimum amount. Never mind that this was for a type of account I had not originally signed up for – I had signed up for a student checking account and it was magically transformed into an Advantage checking account whenever nobody was looking.

    Bank of Oppurtunity is a perfect logo for them – they take every oppurtunity to ream you for as much money as possible.

  9. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Now if they offered $200 off your mortgage payments, that’d be progress.

  10. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Woop Dee Doo.

    Cash would be nice.

  11. MandM813 says:

    I had no idea they had done this! Ive had B of A for 2 years (hate them mind you, but thats a different story). How was this discovered? When did they get busted for this?

  12. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    As a BoA customer, I’ utterly appalled by this “settlement.” You bet I, my mom AND my 12-year-old sister will object to this settlement! I’ll take $200 cash, but not a $200 discount. I’m never doing business with BoA ever again. Not to mention I’m cutting up my student visa card as soon as I have a credit card with better terms. Asshats.

  13. Anonymous says:


    Sample Letter


    Re: Consumer Privacy Cases, J.C.C.P. No. 4211


    As a Class Member, I object to the settlement in Consumer Privacy Cases, J.C.C.P. No. 4211.


    I find the proposed settlements as I understand them:


    Two-hundred dollars ($200) off my next home mortgage, Fees waived on returned deposited items, Fees returned for calling customer service, Twelve (12) months free subscription to a credit card protection service ($30 value), or Ninety (90) days of “Privacy Assist Identity Theft Protection Service” ($17.85 value); and a $3.25 million donation to “privacy-related projects”,


    to be inadequate given Bank of America’s gross extended breach of privacy and breach of the public trust.


    I feel that Bank of America will ultimately benefit and profit from every single settlement voucher redeemed. I also feel that this settlement will indemnify Bank of America against future legal actions regarding this massive, extended breach of privacy.


    In January 2006, ChoicePoint, Inc. agreed to pay $15-million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the data warehouser’s security and record-handling procedures violated consumers’ privacy rights, affecting over 163,000 customers at an average of $92 per security breach.


    In October 2003, Victoria’s Secret, a division of Limited Brands, paid a $50,000 settlement to the State of New York for a breach of privacy on their website between August and November 2002, revealing the name, addresses, and orders of 560 customers at an average of $90 per security breach.


    Not only should Bank of America not profit from their actions, which they will with this settlement, but given the ChoicePoint, Inc. and Victoria’s Secret precedents, they should issue a refund of $90 per account to present and former account holders during the period of 1995 through 2007, in addition to complimentary identity theft protection for up to twelve months and a $3.25 million donation to privacy-related projects.


    Sincerely,


    Your Name

    [www.sptimes.com]
    [query.nytimes.com]

  14. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I wonder if I’m still going to be a member of the “class” if I switch to Chase when I move to New York in august. Not that Chase is any better, but they have more branches in Manhattan.

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    An option that should be available for any privacy-related crime by a corporation is that the top 10% of the offending executives, measured by total compensation, have the totality of their identifying information – everything - published for the next decade. And no corporate helping out from the identity theft armegeddon that results. No assistants cleaning up the recurring messes, on penalty of jail time.

    Eye for an eye. Biyatch.

    I’d MUCH rather have that than $200 off a product I’d never reward a criminal with by buying anyway.

  16. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    @ THBARNES: I’m going to formally ask your permission to use your sample letter.

  17. Anonymous says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil:

    That’s fine! That’s why I posted it!

  18. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Kay thanks….I wrote one of my own, if there are any armchair lawyers out there, I’d like to have it proofread.

  19. mantari says:

    PS: It is even worse if these ‘free subscriptions’ automatically renew and then the customer is automatically on the hook for continued service. This was yet another part of the Netflix settlement that was overturned.

    Really, if you all are interested in this, you should read what all happened with the Netflix settlement. It looks very similar to this one.

  20. LionelEHutz says:

    I think the class attorneys who proposed this settlement should be flogged. This is a disgrace.

  21. Did they not even state in their disclosures and/or privacy policies that they were going to sell your information? Why not? It’s not like no one else puts it in there.

    @LionelEHutz: Flogging all around I think. BoA and the judges shouldn’t be spared.

  22. kimsama says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: You are a member of the class if you held the specified accounts between the dates listed. Even if you now close your account, you’re still a member of the class. HTH

  23. Cap'n Jack says:

    Absolutely shameful.

  24. illram says:

    THBARNES: (and others)

    Excellent letter. I had no idea this settlement was going on, literally right under my nose. I am going to steal some of your letter and write my own if you don’t mind, which I have included here:

    “As a member of the class in this suit, I do not find that the proposed settlement in any way approaches a meaningful compensation for the damages I have suffered as a direct result of BoA’s gross breach of privacy. I am therefore objecting to this settlement ((and formally excluding myself)). ((don’t add that if you still want anything out of this suit.))

    As a class member, I have received massive amounts of junk mail and have wasted precious time and money advising these senders of my desire to be removed from their mailing lists. I have wasted time and money using my phone to talk to telemarketers and inform them I do not want them to call my number. I have wasted time and money deleting spam from my inbox. I have wasted time and money sorting through the huge stacks of mail I receive daily due to the actions of companies such as BoA in releasing my private information. These are all things I do daily thanks to BoA.


    I find the proposed settlements as I understand them:


    Two-hundred dollars ($200) off my next home mortgage, Fees waived on returned deposited items, Fees returned for calling customer service, Twelve (12) months free subscription to a credit card protection service ($30 value), or Ninety (90) days of “Privacy Assist Identity Theft Protection Service” ($17.85 value); and a $3.25 million donation to “privacy-related projects”


    None of these options adequately compensate me for my damages. On the contrary, they are all worthless to me. The above proposed actions cannot possible compensate me for the following reasons:

    1) I never intend on taking out a mortgage from BoA/I already have a mortgage from another company;
    2) I never intend to use or acquire a BoA credit card and do not own one currently/I do not intend to continue using my current BoA credit card;
    3) I have never/rarely called customer service and do not feel that whatever money this will save me, if any, can adequately compensate me for the damages I have suffered due to this serious breach of privacy;
    4) I have never/rarely overdrafted my account and do not feel that potential waiver of fees in any way will adequately compensate me for the damages I have suffered due to this serious breach of privacy;
    5) I do not intend on using Theft prevention products and/or services and do not feel that $17.85 will adequately compensate me for the damages I have suffered due to this serious breach of privacy.

    Given Bank of America’s gross extended breach of privacy and of public trust, I do not feel that any of these options are sufficient and I object to this proposed settlement. The above compensation does not in any way rectify or compensate me for the damages that directly resulted from BoA’s breach of my privacy. As a class member I therefore respectfully object to this settlement as inadequate and unsatisfactory. I hope the sides in this case can come to a settlement that adequately compensates myself and others by actually rectifying some of the more tangible damages we have suffered due to this breach.

    Sincerely,
    Armchair Lawyer ;)

    Of course if you really want to make a difference you need to show up in court with an attorney; I doubt this will do anything unless they get absolutely flooded with letters. I’m not an expert in class-actions by any stretch of the imagination, but if you don’t want to be bound by any of these terms then just to be safe you should exclude yourself. If anyone with more knowledge on this (i.e. if you are technically a class member but have not received notice, do you need to exclude yourself) feel free to pipe in.

  25. Pseudothink says:

    @THEBARNES: Thanks for the fantastic sample letter! The only thing I think it lacks is a brief statement (like ILLRAM’s) that the settlement does not provide any meaningful compensation to the sender.

    The instructions in the class action notification specifically say that, in addition to mailing the letters, one “also must file a Proof of Service with the Court stating that you mailed or delivered copies of these papers to class and defense counsel.” I have a reasonable idea of what that means, but how exactly does one file a “proof of service” with “the court”? The instructions end there, and that seems a little inadequate.

    @Everyone: Remember, if you send in objection letters, make sure you do not exclude yourself from the class action. Doing so will invalidate your objection, becase the case will no longer affect you.

    Also, I live in downtown San Diego, in the same building as a BoA branch and only a few blocks away from the class counsel office (Bonnie Sweeny and Lerach Coughlin). As a class member, do I have any right to their time, to express my own dissatisfaction in person? Is there anything else I might be able to do? I’m thinking about changing my wifi hotspot home page to feature a link to this page.

  26. dg20190 says:

    The following is the objection I am registering:

    Clerk of the Court
    San Francisco Superior Court
    400 McAllister St
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    In the matter of:
    Consumer Privacy Cases, J.C.C.P. No. 4211


    To whom it may concern:
    My name is (name removed). I have had Bank of America checking and savings accounts from (date range removed), and thus qualify under qualification (1) to be a member of the Class in this case (please see attachment A, proof of membership in the Class). I wish to object to this settlement on the grounds that it is unethical and provides a valueless ‘benefit’ to the affected Class, in exchange for the demonstrably valued indemnification by the Class.
    It is my understanding that the allegation is that Bank of America sold information, pertaining to members of the Class, that it was obliged to protect and keep private. The first point of my objection is that the proposed settlement is being conducted by deception; I have taken reasonable measures to learn of the substance of this case, and can find no description of the actual allegations. It is improper and unethical to offer a settlement, yet withhold the details of the matter being settled. This asks the Class to evaluate the offer presented in the advance knowledge that the Class will be ignorant of the scope of the settlement and unable to reasonably evaluate whether the proposed settlement benefit is equal to the harm suffered by the Class.
    The second point of my objection is that the proposed benefit is inappropriate to the Class and provides no value to the Class as a whole. With regards to settlement benefit (a), which is a discount on loan origination fees, there are two issues that make it poorly matched to the alleged harm suffered by the class. Possessing a savings or checking account, or both, in no way implies any need whatsoever for loan origination, and thus for the members of the class with no loan origination needs, benefit (a) has no value. Likewise, possession of a savings or checking account in no way implies that waivers of fees on deposited items returned has value to all members of the Class, nor does it imply that all members of the Class have use for Bank of America’s automated Voice Response Unit.
    The third point of my objection is that benefit (a), a loan origination discount, is no concession whatsoever by Bank of America, but in fact a mechanism to profit from its potential liability to members of the Class. Even with the discount, the Bank of America can reasonably be expected to profit from new loan origination business. Thus it is reasonable to perceive this offer of a settlement benefit to be in actuality an attempt to use the settlement as a means of marketing new services to members of the class. This is wholly inappropriate for a settlement offer as it cannot be reasonably perceived as being a concession made in good faith. Furthermore I assert that if the Bank of America had any expectation of being called on to provide this benefit to members of the Class, that a simple cash offer in the same amount would be the equivalent and more acceptable to members of the Class. The offer itself is an implicit admission that the Bank of America knows this benefit has no value to the Class as a whole.

    I hereby state that a loan origination discount from Bank of America has no value to me as a member of the Class. Indeed, if this case is resolved by settlement and not by the Court, I would have reasonable reservations about further entrusting an entity whose fidelity to privacy obligations is in question, and such a discount would have an actual value less than zero.
    I also hereby state that fee waivers of deposited items returned has no value to me. I have never in my life had a deposited item returned, and I do not anticipate ever having this problem. If I do encounter this issue, it is a private issue between myself and the provider of the returned item, and Bank of America has no appropriate place in its resolution unless I specifically request its assistance.
    I also hereby assert that the settlement offer itself makes self-evident that the Class’ grant of indemnification to Bank of America has a positive value. It would therefore be an injustice, and contrary to the purpose of the Court, to approve a settlement where one party obtains something of value and the other party obtains nothing of value.

    If I may briefly shift into less formal language to describe this settlement offer: This offer makes a mockery of the legal system and the very concept of the Class Action suit. The Bank of America gets to cut its losses at no substantial cost to itself, the lawyers for the Class get four million dollars even though they have done nothing to benefit those they represent, and Class members, the ones to whom the alleged harm occurred, get nothing at all. A court that accepted a settlement of this nature would be acting to justify the ever-widening public impression that there is no justice to be found in the courts, and that favorable results are purchased with money and influence. This case, should the settlement be granted, would be Exhibit A of how well-funded corporations and lawyers profit whereas the common man has no legal recourse to protect his rights.

    May it please the Court, that this objection be entered into the record, and that this settlement be rejected as insufficent to compensate the Class for the indemnification the Class is asked to grant to the Bank of America.

    Thank you,
    (name and address removed)

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you so much for your sound response to this very important issue. It is now 2/23/2008 and I believe still extremely important that this communication continue, during the process that Pres. Obama is demanding we all do our parts oversee the transparancy required for the proper and efficient distribution of the Stimulus and bailout dollars serve the best AND HIGHEST outcomes for All concerned.

      I AM one who lives in another state, yet otherwise qualify for this class and I might add subsequent class suits with regard to Bank of America to be established. As such, in my research, it has just come to my attention that Bank of America has just become the accounts recievable entity for The United States Postal Service. That is to say they are billing the Postal Service’s data base clients for their annual fees and charges of post office boxes. Privacy issues, for sure problematic.

  27. dryheat says:

    Since I have no faith in the Court seriously considering objections, I had been planning on excluding myself from the class, thereby keeping my options open in the future.

    Now, let’s say the unthinkable happens, and the Court rules that a cash settlement is due the class, do I have the option to return to the class, or am I screwed because of my previous letter of exclusion?

    Thanks.

  28. JayinPA says:

    Why is this class action limited to BorA customers with a California address? BofA has customers nationwide. It has branches in other states, and it issues, for instance, the US Airways affinity credit card. US Airways is the dominant carrier out of Philadelphia, and many other cities. So there must be thousands of us who apparently are excluded from this class action case solely on a state address basis. Why? And is that a good idea? Why not consolidate all such claims in one action?
    Or are we? Is there another law firm in this action representing people who lack only the California residency element? If so, how do we contact that class representative? If currently there is no class for us non-Californians, why not? Has BofA done the same identity-selling concerning us, and if so wouldn’t this action be the appropriate one to add us as a class of plaintiffs? Why the rush to judgment?

  29. Employedbythem says:

    What bothers me is that i just found a tiny little link in my credit card activity that was suppose to serve as notifying me that i’m part of this class action suit, and it’s already too late to exclude myself. You think maybe I would of heard about this earlier, considering i’m employed by the company being sued.

    This happened to me less than a year ago with another class action suit against bofa for not paying employees correctly. I didn’t want to recieve the money from that one because I do want to keep my job but I would of excluded myself to my rights.

    Anyone know if there’s a way after the deadline?

  30. AbiraAndrogeus says:

    We just had, 9 days ago, two accounts set up by an identity thief under
    our primary accounts. B of A is trying to cover this up. Do you know that
    anyone can set up accounts at B of A online once they have you SS#, and
    then traqnsfer your $$ from your existing accounts to their address?
    Yes, if you can believe this, BofA actually set the accounts (2) up with addresses in different States with different addresses than ours. Don’t figure.

    We found out because we daily monitor our accounts and saw the new accounts. We have reported this to the FTC/FBI and numerous consumer
    associations.

    Beware!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! of BofA.

    Take care,
    Dean & Linda

  31. Anonymous says:

    People wake up please,BoA are street hustlers in suits;.Research these crooks and I think you might find the time to object to this insult they call a settlement.They are screwing their customers and it is nothing other than our lack of communication and cohesion,and in some cases,our gross ignorance,that enables them to pull these stunts.I have previously ignored class action suits against Ford and a couple of others.More the fool I am for it,as I watch these companies ply their nefarious trade,and swindle what should be their most valuable asset, their client base.