Talbots Sale of Customers’ Personal Info Without Consent Virginia Class Action

Are companies who have information on customers entitled to sell that information to other parties without permission from those customers? The complaint for this class action alleges that The Talbots, Inc. sold personally identifying information (PII) about customers to list brokers like NextMark, Inc., which in turn sold the information to other parties. This exposed them to large amounts of junk mail, telemarketing solicitations, and other aggressive sales approaches. The complaint claims that this is a violation of Virginia’s Personal Information Privacy Act (VPIPA).

The class for this action is all Virginia residents whose PII was sold by Talbots to third parties without their consent.

Plaintiffs Lois Piper and Brenda Ruark both bought items at Talbots. Whenever they made a purchase, the complaint says, the cashier would request PII, including name and address. Talbots did not warn either that their PII would be sold, nor did it offer either a way to opt out. Both have since received junk mail and telephone solicitations that they believe comes from sales by Talbots of their information.

How do they know the information has been sold? The complaint claims, “NextMark’s website offers to provide access to the PII of 1,832,331 Talbots customers from the ‘Talbots Mailing List’ at a base price of ‘$120/M’ [per thousand],’ (i.e., 12 cents apiece).”

The complaint then reproduces the page, entitled “Talbots Mailing List,” which includes a description of Talbots offerings and other information—for example, “Gender: 90% Female.”

NextMark also offers a “Talbots Wiland Direct Modeled Mailing List.” Wiland Direct is described in the complaint as a data cooperative. This list apparently allows “Wiland Direct members [to] apply their models to Talbot’s names to connect with their ideal customer type for the highest rate of response.” They can choose from models such as “Best Donor,” “Comprehensive Response,” and “Long-Term Value.”

However, as quoted in the complaint, VPIPA says, “No merchant, without giving notice to the purchaser, shall sell to any third person information which concerns the purchaser and which is gathered in connection with the sale, rental or exchange of tangible personal property to the purchaser at the merchant’s place of business.”

The complaint further claims that the Talbots “disclosure of PII are [sic] not only unlawful, but also dangerous because they allow for the targeting of particularly vulnerable members of society.” The lists, it says, are available to anyone: “For example, a purchaser could buy a list with the names and addresses of all Talbots customers who [] wear size 4 and made purchases over $100.”

The complaint asserts that “an entire industry exists where companies known as data miner purchase, trade, and collect massive databases of information about consumers. Data miners then profit by selling this ‘extraordinarily intrusive’ information in an open and largely unregulated market.”

The complaint quotes a Federal Trade Commission official as saying, “The larger the data set, the greater the potential for analysis—and profit.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Talbots Sale of Customers’ Personal Info Without Permission Virginia Complaint

February 14, 2020

May companies who have customer information sell it to others without permission? The complaint for this class action alleges that The Talbots, Inc. sold personally identifying information about customers to list brokers like NextMark, Inc., which in turn sold the information to other parties. This exposed them to mail, telemarketing, and other aggressive sales approaches.

Talbots Sale of Customers’ Personal Info Without Permission Virginia Complaint

Case Event History

Talbots Sale of Customers’ Personal Info Without Permission Virginia Complaint

February 14, 2020

May companies who have customer information sell it to others without permission? The complaint for this class action alleges that The Talbots, Inc. sold personally identifying information about customers to list brokers like NextMark, Inc., which in turn sold the information to other parties. This exposed them to mail, telemarketing, and other aggressive sales approaches.

Talbots Sale of Customers’ Personal Info Without Permission Virginia Complaint
Tags: Sharing Personal Information with Third Parties, Your Privacy