A federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota has paved the way for the victims of the Target data breach to receive compensation. The judge granted preliminary approval to a $10 million settlement of a class action suit against Target, with the final hearing set for November 10th to allow any objections to the terms by Target customers.
The 2013 Target breach resulted in the exposure of credit and debit card information for approximately 40 million customers. Roughly 100 million Target customers were affected in some way by the data breach, including those who had other personal information stolen but not payment card info.
If you were affected, how do you claim a portion of this settlement? First, you must have proof that you used your card at a Target store (not Target.com) anytime between November 27, 2013, and the end of business on December 18, 2013, or that you were notified by Target that your information was breached. Otherwise, you can claim that you believed that your information was compromised as part of the Target breach, but that will be incredibly hard to prove.
You must show economic harm to meet the eligibility requirements for a payout. For most people, that is going to be the most difficult part of submitting a claim.
The economic harm can take any of the following forms:
- Fraudulent Unreimbursed Charges – The key word is unreimbursed, as most credit cards will remove a fraudulent charge once it is caught and reported, with no charge to the consumer. Those with debit card losses may have an easier claim, but previous reimbursement from your debit card issuer may negate a Target claim.
- Lost Time – Time spent dealing with fraudulent charges or changing information such as a driver’s license or Social Security card may be claimed — up to two hours at $10/hour, according to ConsumerAffairs.com. Consumer advocates are likely to call this inadequate — for starters, $10 per hour is not much more than minimum wage, and who has spent less than two hours at the DMV replacing a driver’s license?
- Credit Report Correction – If you hire someone to help you correct your credit report, those costs may be eligible for reimbursement.
- Fees/Interest Rate Increases – You may be reimbursed for assessed fees from events such as overdrafts through fraudulent purchases or increases in an interest rate caused by an altered credit rating.
- Lost Access – Costs related to frozen or restricted access to any of your accounts may be eligible for compensation.
- Credit-Related Costs – Purchase of credit reports or monitoring services in reaction to exposure of your information through the Target breach may be reimbursed.
As of this writing, a draft copy of the Target form that will be used for compensation claims may be found at http://kstp.com/kstpImages/repository/cs/files/20150318191603732.pdf.
The amount of economic harm will dictate the payout, and for those who can prove harm, the reward amount is likely to be minimal. Edward Jones Consumer Analyst Brian Yarbrough suggests that those who do bother to file a claim are likely to receive around $50-$100 — not trivial to many consumers, but many others will decide it is not worth the effort, given the chances of success.
In the meantime, gather all the documentation you need to prove any of the above claims, and check the Target website periodically for the final compensation form to appear. Look over your evidence as objectively as you can, and decide for yourself whether to file a claim — although if you are truly owed money in any amount, there is little reason not to claim it.
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