Borders sold customer data to Barnes & Noble

Bryan Cohen Oct. 3, 2011, 12:49pm


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly urged state consumers on Monday to review their privacy rights related to the sale of customer information gathered by the defunct Borders book store chain.

As part of the sale of assets involving Borders, which filed for bankruptcy in February, the database of Borders customers was sold to the Barnes & Noble chain for nearly $14 million.

"Nearly 50 million former Borders customers, including thousands of Pennsylvania residents, will soon receive an important e-mail notification about the possible transfer of their customer information," Kelly said. "Borders operated approximately 30 stores in Pennsylvania, so this data transfer has the potential to impact a large number of consumers across the state. Depending on how you shopped at Borders, the customer data could include your name, email address, telephone number, birthday, credit card information and purchase history."

Kelly explained that her Bureau of Consumer Protection has been working with other states to protect consumer privacy during this bankruptcy process and, as a result of that effort, all former Borders customers are being given the opportunity to opt out of this data transfer, which would prevent their customer information from being moved to Barnes & Noble.

Former Borders customers can prevent their information from being transferred by visiting the Barnes & Noble website for instructions or by responding to an official notification email being sent by Barnes & Noble to all former Borders customers. Kelly cautioned consumers to be watchful for fake or "look-alike" e-mails linked to identity theft scams.

Kelly urged consumers to review the privacy information and instructions included in the email notifications and websites carefully and to respond promptly. Opt-out responses via e-mail must be received within 15 days, while customers using the Barnes & Noble or Borders websites to opt out will have 30 days to respond.

"Whether you wish to allow your customer data to be transferred to Barnes & Noble is a personal choice, but it is important for every consumer to be aware of their right to privacy and their ability to prevent their information from being transferred," Kelly said.

"We encourage consumers to verify that they are using the official email notification or website to respond to this program in order to avoid identify theft scams. If consumers have any doubts about the authenticity of an email or the Internet links that they are being asked to use, we encourage them to review information posted on our website to help guide them to the correct resources."

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