Home Depot facing dozens of lawsuits after data breach

At least 44 lawsuits have been filed against Home Depot (HD) in the aftermath of the huge data breach disclosed in September involving an estimated 56 million credit cards and debit cards, the company said Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it expects more claims to be made in addition to the lawsuits that have already been filed in the U.S. and Canada. And, Home Depot said it is participating in government investigations that could involve fines or other penalties.

However, the filing indicated that it is too soon for Home Depot to assess just how costly the government actions, financial claims, and lawsuits -- being filed on behalf of customers, shareholders, as well as payment processing companies and banks -- could be.

"The Company will continue to evaluate information as it becomes known and will record an estimate for losses at the time or times when it is both probable that a loss has been incurred and the amount of the loss is reasonably estimable," the SEC Form 10-Q filing said. "The Company believes that it is reasonably possible that the ultimate amount paid on these actions, claims and investigations could be material to the Company's consolidated financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows in future periods."

Word of the months-long data breach began coming out in early September. The company confirmed the breach about a week later. Earlier this month, Home Depot reported that 53 million email addresses had been stolen in the same period the thieves were collecting customers' payment data.

Home Depot's data theft was even larger than last year's huge breach at Target involving some 40 million cards and data on the retailer's customers. Home Depot said it has aggressively been putting in place data security measures that had already been underway.

  • Mitch Lipka On Twitter» On Facebook» On Google+»

    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.