Minnesota bank group sues Target over massive data breach

Feb. 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A group of First Farmer & Merchants banks in Minnesota have filed suit against Target Corp. over its role in the holiday season data breach, court papers say.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Tuesday that the lawsuit could be the first test of the state's 2007 Plastic Card Security Act that was designed to outline a merchant's responsibilities when it came to a breach of credit card and debit card data.

"The way that this has happened, it's the banks whose exposure is greatest here, " said Garrett Blanchfield, an attorney representing the five banks.

"We think the Minnesota laws provide a sound basis for us," Blanchfield said.

Target said Monday that personal information concerning 70 million customers had been stolen during the computer hacking that occurred at the middle of the holiday gift buying season. The retailer also said payment information on 40 million accounts had been stolen.

Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel said in an online posting said "the number of people affected was likely to be exaggerated and misunderstood."

The assumption, which he said proved to be true, was that media accounts would declare 110 million people were affected, when there was, instead, a large, but undetermined overlap between accounts with stolen personal information and accounts with stolen payment information.

"We knew many reports would simply, and incorrectly, combine the 40 million and 70 million figures to arrive at 110 million total affected guests. And sure enough, many did," Steinhafel said.

The banks that filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis -- First Farmers & Merchants National Banks of Luverne and Fairmont; First Farmers & Merchants State Banks in Brownsdale and Grand Meadow and First Farmers & Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls -- said they had to cover charges for fraudulent purchases, as well as cancel and replace credit and debit cards and checking accounts.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the store does not comment on unresolved litigation.

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