Target meets state attorneys as lawsuits pile up

Target meets state attorneys as lawsuits pile up

BOSTON/NEW YORK - Target Corp's general counsel, Timothy Baer, spoke with top state prosecutors on Monday to address their concerns about a massive data breach, as consumer lawsuits piled up against the retailer and two US senators called for a federal probe.

Attorneys general from several states including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York have asked the company to provide more information about the cyber attack, in which hackers stole data from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited Target stores during the first three weeks of the holiday shopping season.

Target did not specify which state officials Baer spoke with to "bring them up to date" on the data breach, the second-largest in US retail history. The No. 3 US retailer said the call took place earlier on Monday but gave few details on the discussion.

The company faces at least 15 lawsuits seeking class action status as a result of the cyber attack. The suits were filed by people who claim their information was stolen and they allege that Target either failed to properly secure the customer data, did not promptly notify customers of the breach or both.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said it was company policy not to comment on litigation.

The Secret Service is leading the government's investigation into the matter. Target has not said how its systems were compromised, except to say the operation was "sophisticated." It has apologised and offered 10 per cent discounts over the weekend to bring disgruntled customers back to stores.

With so little information disclosed so far about the attack, it is unclear whether the plaintiffs will be able to prove their allegations.

Meanwhile, two Democratic US Senators, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chuck Schumer of New York, have asked the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate the breach.

"If Target failed to adequately protect customer information, it denied customers the protection that they rightly expect when a business collects their personal information," Blumenthal said in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on Monday. "Its conduct would be unfair and deceptive."

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