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Criminal Resource Manual

439. Customer Civil Actions for Violations of the Act

12 U.S.C. § 3417 authorizes customers to file a civil action to recover damages for violations of provisions of the Act either by the government or by a financial institution. Recovery is $100 regardless of the volume of the records involved. Actual damages sustained as a result of the violation are recoverable. Punitive damages are recoverable if the violation was willful or intentional. Court costs and reasonable attorney's fees are also recoverable.

A financial institution, its employees and agents, are absolved of liability for any violation of the Act if good faith reliance is placed upon a government certificate of compliance with the Act (12 U.S.C. §§  3417(c), 3403(b)).

While a civil action against the government is directed at and will be satisfied by the government agency rather than the individual government official involved, any court finding of a wilful or intentional violation of the Act requires a disciplinary proceeding by the Merit Systems Protection Board against the official involved (12 U.S.C. § 3417(b)).