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Lawsuits Emerging From Data Breach At Target

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The first federal lawsuits are now being filed over the massive data breach at Target.

Three Minnesotans are among those who say the Minneapolis-based company put them at risk.

The company confirmed last week that someone had stolen credit and debit card information from as many as 40 million Target shoppers. The thefts went undetected for more than two weeks.

Today, Target released photos of its senior leadership team, saying they are working around the clock to help resolve the issue.

The credit card data breach affects roughly 40 million customers who shopped at Target from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15.

In both lawsuits, the plaintiffs claim negligence by the company.

One lawsuit, filed on behalf of Sarah Horton, states Target knew, or should have known, about the security vulnerabilities when dealing with sensitive personal information.

The other suit, filed on behalf of Bryan Barth and Theresa Burkstrand, claims the company broke Minnesota law by not alerting customers quickly enough after learning of the security issue.

Target shopper Amy Sakayan of Plymouth recently noticed that someone used her American Express number on Dec. 10 to charge $387.74 for apparel and housewares at Walmart.

"We don't shop at Walmart," Sakayan said. "We shop at Target."

It's because they shop at Target that Sakayan's been checking their credit card statements regularly.

"I know a lot of people are closing their cards, but we're choosing just to monitor because we're not going to be held responsible for any of the charges, supposedly," she said.

She doesn't know yet if that charge is related to the Target breach, and she's not as upset as most of the people posting on Target's Facebook page.

Many are furious that the call lines have been jammed, and they have to spend so much time watching their accounts now.

Some customers are already suing in what will likely be a class action.

Minneapolis attorney Joe Tamburino said there's a benefit in a case becoming a class action suit.

"If you go at it, by yourself, it sometimes becomes unmanageable. Most of the time, in these large suits, you want class action, so, you have one person speaking for the group," Tamburino said. "Yes, it's difficult to do, but, you can control the situation."

Tamburino also said shoppers may file several lawsuits in the days to come. He said when an attorney files the suit can play a role in determining who will represent the group if the case does become a class action suit.

"You're going to have people from all over the country saying, 'We want to represent the class,'" Tamburino said. "Why? Well, there's a lot of money in that, quite frankly."

The first suits are alleging that Target should've known that its security system was vulnerable and should've acted more quickly.

"It's all about negligence," he said. "Did the corporation do whatever they were supposed to do to protect against fraud, and once they knew it existed, they take immediate steps to correct it?"

Even with her suspicious charges, Sakayan doesn't plan to join any suits.

"I think it could happen anywhere, it's going to happen," she said. "It's part of our life now, and just have to deal with it."

One thing she is upset about is that the "surprise" of Christmas has been ruined for her.

As she went over credit card statements with her husband, she noticed a charge to Pandora Jewelry store. Her husband fessed up to it, so she already knows what one of her Christmas gifts will be.

Shoppers in California and Oregon have also filed suit.

Target says it typically doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The company also said Monday that they've reached out to the office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in order to update them on the latest information on the data breach.

Target has partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Secret Service, who have asked that any information about the investigation be kept private.


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