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Law Girl
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Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  I am an attorney versed in laws that protect consumers.
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I purchased a money order from wal-mart to pay my rent with

Customer Question

I purchased a money order from wal-mart to pay my rent with on Friday June 10 2010. That weekend I went camping with my family while camping I received a nasty message from my landlord saying that we had to get rid of our dog that we have had since Dec. or move out the message was rude and uncalled for she also mentioned are rent being late at that point it was two days late. Monday morning My boyfriend was hurt at work and was life flighted to a hospital on the other side of the state. All that day I was in hospitals airplanes and ambulances by my boyfriends side. My landlord who was unaware of what happened kept calling my phone and leaving messages. That evening I returned her call when she asked me about the rent I lied to her and told her it was in the mail when it was really at home on my nightstand. I don't know why I lied it was out of character for me I just wanted the lady of the phone. I had every intention of sending rent when I got back home. Later that week when my Landlord didn't receive the rent in the mail she called and asked about what form of payment I had sent I told her that I had purchased a Wal-Mart money order on Fri. the 10. She went to Wal-Mart and requested to review video footage of my purchase witch they allowed her to see and then even gave her the serial number off my money order and the forms to track it. My question is did Wal-Mart violate my rights. I feel like my rights were violated I also was under the impression that money orders belonged to the purchaser in till it is actually in the hands of the recipient.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Girl replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Ultimately there are many arguments to be made on both sides of the issue as to whether your privacy rights were violated. If you were going to take action against Walmart, you may have a bit of an up hill battle.

Generally Walmart will post a sign letting customers know that there is surveillance and that the transaction is being recorded. Now you did not have the expectation that your landlord would check on you, but since you did not have an expectation of privacy in being at Walmart or making a purchase (especially in light of their surveillance sings), showing her the footage probably did not violate any laws.

Now it is more arguable that your privacy rights were violated when Walmart shared the details of the financial transaction, i.e. the money order serial number, etc. However, at that point that it was confirmed that the money order was purchased and in conjunction with confirmation that you had sent the money order, it is possible that the landlord reported to Walmart that the order was missing and tried to make a claim. If this is the context in which Walmart took the information, under the premise that the order belonged to her and was missing (or lost in the mail), that may be enough to find that your privacy rights were not necessarily violated. (After all, you did represent that the money order was in the mail and upon sending she would have been the owner.) However, if Walmart was informed that you were the owner of the money order, then they likely had no right to share the details of the transaction with your landlord.

Walmart's actions are definitely questionable and they should not have released the information. However, whether you have action against them is a tougher question to answer. Ultimately, Walmart should not have released any information without the carbon copy from the money order to prove the purchase.

I apologize that my response is not more black and white, but this is really a gray area which will depend on what Walmart was informed by your landlord.

Please let me know if you have any other questions on this matter and/or require clarification. Otherwise please hit "ACCEPT" so I may receive credit for my efforts.

Good Luck!

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