Neiman Marcus and Target breaches result in probes and lawsuits

Several attorneys general are looking into the data breach at Neiman Marcus.
(M. Spencer Green / Associated Press)

Officials, banks and consumers all want a piece of Target and Neiman Marcus, filing lawsuits and launching investigations against the two retailers after they reported data breaches.

A letter from Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) was publicized Tuesday asking Target’s information security officials for a briefing about the details of the attack against Target “over the busiest shopping period of the year.”

Rockefeller chairs the Senate commerce committee; McCaskill runs the subcommittee on consumer protection.

Last month, Target said that up to 40 million customers’ credit and debit card accounts were hacked from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15. Then Friday, the Minneapolis company widened the net to include as many as 70 million shoppers whose names and home and email addresses may have also been compromised.


Potentially 110 million consumers are affected, according to Target.

The disclosure has already spawned more than a dozen lawsuits, most from consumers.

But on Tuesday, a Seattle law firm filed a new complaint against Target alleging that the retailer was warned in 2007 by a security expert about weaknesses in its point-of-sale systems.

The lawsuit accuses Target of ultimately ignoring a white paper by Neal Krawetz naming the company and other retail chains as potential targets of account theft. Among the allegations: that Target was negligent before the breach and then misleading to customers afterward.

Law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is seeking class-action status for the suit, which was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California.

On Monday, Connecticut-based Putnam Bank sued Target in federal court in Minnesota.

The complaint alleges that the hack forced the financial institution to “incur significant losses” from reissuing payment cards and reimbursing customers for fraud losses, lost interest and transaction fees, as well as from expenses related to monitoring accounts and dealing with confused clients.

Many attorneys general are now investigating the Target break-in. And several have also turned their attention to a recent Neiman Marcus breach disclosed Friday.


The upscale department store chain, based in Dallas, said hackers may have stolen credit card data of its customers.

The offices of Connecticut Atty. Gen. George Jepsen and Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan confirmed they are looking into the Neiman Marcus break-in.

“To the extent that we become aware of breaches at other retailers, we will be looking into those as well,” Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen, said in an email.



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