Wednesday, August 1, 2007

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Texas Attorney General Takes Action Against National Health Spa Chain for Exposing Customer Records

DALLAS – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took legal action Tuesday against Minnesota-based Lifetime Fitness and its subsidiaries, LTF Club Management Company, L.L.C. and LTF Club Operations Company, Inc., for systematically exposing its customers to identity theft. According to documents filed by the Attorney General, Lifetime Fitness violated the law by repeatedly failing to protect customer records that contain sensitive personal information, including Social Security and credit card account numbers.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General discovered that several Life Time Fitness facilities in the Metroplex area exposed customers’ personal identifying information by discarding customer records in easily accessible trash cans behind the stores. According to investigators, the records included names, addresses, Social Security and driver’s license numbers, and credit and debit card information. Because the defendants offer child care and youth recreational facilities, the discarded documents also included names and dates of birth of several minors.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans expect their personal information to remain confidential. The Office of the Attorney General will take all necessary steps to protect consumers from identity thieves.”

Media links

View Video of News Conference

Sample documents in
Life Time dumpster
(Information redacted by OAG)

Photo of one
Life Time dumpster
where documents were found
Lawsuit Against Life Time

The defendants are accused of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires the safeguarding and proper destruction of clients’ sensitive personal information. Under the law, the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to seek penalties of up to $25,000 per violation of the DTPA and $50,000 per violation of the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act.

The Attorney General also cited the defendants with violations of Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients’ personal information. The law provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for each abandoned record.

Today’s legal action also cites Life Time Fitness with unrelated violations of the Health Spa Act for operating several Texas locations without being registered with the Secretary of State. Under the Act, Lifetime Fitness can face penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

The Office of the Attorney General is investigating whether any exposed data has been used illegally. Consumers who interacted with Life Time Fitness facilities should carefully monitor bank, credit card and any similar statements for evidence of suspicious activity. Customers should also obtain free copies of their credit reports.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or do so online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov, where they can also obtain information on identity theft detection and prevention.