It is no news that debit and credit cards are now the primary form of retail payments. Some sources estimate that sixty percent of retail transactions involve card payments, opening retailers to significant data breaches and lawsuits. Congress is considering enacting federal standards to protect consumers following data breaches that would supersede state-breach statutes and provide more a more uniform response nationwide.
In the last year, various retailers have been sued because of stolen customer information. Home Depot, for example, recently settled a case for $13 million to reimburse class members for their losses and expenses incurred in trying to freeze their credit reports and monitor their accounts, as well as late fees due to identity theft. Target faced a massive breach in 2013 and is still dealing with the fallout of having over 140 lawsuits against it. One of the lawsuits is expected to settle for $10 million dollars to various customers and another is expected to settle for $20 million dollars with Mastercard. With Target’s data breach, banks stood to lose over $240 million and are suing to recover the loses if they can show that Target was negligent in guarding sensitive customer information.
However, not only retailers are exposed to data breaches. Health insurance provider Blue Anthem is also facing a class action suit in the wake of a breach affecting almost 80 million people. The hack, which took place back in early 2015, exposed millions of people’s private information to hackers, including social security numbers, birthdays, among other things, which in the wrong hands can be used to effect identity theft. It is left to see how the courts will handle Anthem’s case, particularly because California law is sympathetic to consumers’ privacy rights.