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TRENTON, N.J. – As the top concern of consumers nationwide, identity theft may now also have some legal ramifications for financial institutions. The New Jersey law firms of Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman and Lynch Keefe Bartels have recently filed a complaint against Bank of America in New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County on behalf of Trenton resident Cindy Jones, a Bank of America customer. Jones was one of more than 676,000 customers who were affected when bank employees illegally sold information on more than one million accounts from four financial services companies: Bank of America, Wachovia, PNC and Commerce Bank. Of immediate concern to her attorneys are potential unauthorized use of Jones’ identity between the times of the theft and the arrests by Hackensack New Jersey police officers, the need (and cost) to carefully monitor Jones’ credit reports for unauthorized activity during the next several years, and the availability of Jones’ identity for her own use. The lawyers intend to seek class action status to represent other identity theft victims as well. According to John Keefe, Jr., Esq., a partner and New Jersey mass torts and class action litigation attorney at Lynch Keefe Bartels, beyond the theft of personal information the case ” is also a story about the massive failure of the bank, or banks, to take reasonable actions to protect their customers’ personal financial information from identity theft.” “ Bank of America has a fiduciary responsibility to protect clients’ confidential personal and account information and could have taken some reasonable steps to prevent these thefts,” explains Arthur Penn, Esq., a partner and mass torts and class action litigation attorney at the New Jersey law firm of Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman. “Bank of America is in a business based on trust, and they violated that trust. So this lawsuit seeks to hold them accountable.” The Federal Trade Commission lists identity theft as the fastest growing crime in America, affecting approximately 900,000 new victims each year. In its latest survey, the Better Business Bureau states that $52.6 billion was lost to identity theft in 2004. The government’s latest effort to rein in this “epidemic” – the Fair & Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) Disposal Rule became effective June 1, 2005. The rule states that “any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose” must properly destroy the information prior to disposal. FACTA further states that every person and/or business must take “reasonable measures” to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal. Reasonable measures are defined by FACTA as burning, pulverizing, or shredding of documents or media containing consumer information including computer hard drives and CDs. -

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