A U.S.-based retail chain has agreed to compensate customers forced to change their driver's licences or credit card numbers after the company suffered a major computer security breach.
TJX, which operates Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada, said it has reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that was launched after the company announced earlier this year that millions of credit and debit card numbers were stolen from its computer system.
The deal includes reimbursement and credit monitoring for customers who had to change their driver's licences, as well as vouchers redeemable in TJX stores for customers who had to change bank and credit card information.
Customers toreceive vouchers of up to $60
Lawyer Evatt Merchant of the Merchant Law Group, which represented Canadians in the lawsuit, said in an interview from Saskatoon the vouchers will be worth between $30 and $60.
"It is very meaningful in terms of placing value on people's lost time and inconvenience, and we're delighted that TJX has recognized their customers were put to a lot of concern and inconvenience over this," Merchant said.
Merchant said the deal calculates lost time spent on such things as telephoning credit card companies to be worth $10 an hour.
"From the inception of our company, our customers have always come first," TJX president Carol Meyrowitz said in a news release Friday.
"We deeply regret any inconvenience our customers may have experienced as a result of the criminal attacks on our computer system."
45.7 million credit, debit card numbers stolen
The deal must still be approved by courts. At least 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers of TJX Cos. customers were stolen from the discount retailer's computer system over several years. Another 455,000 customers who returned merchandise without receipts had their personal data stolen, including driver's licence numbers.
Customers whose information was stolen were alerted by mail earlier this year. Many customers whose credit cards were used fraudulently have already been reimbursed by their credit card companies.
Last week, Irving Escobar was sentenced in Florida to five years in prison for leading an identity theft ring that used the stolen credit card numbers. Escobar also was ordered Thursday to pay nearly $600,000 US in restitution.
Five others who were accused of playing lesser roles in the ring have pleaded guilty in Florida courts. Four were ordered in August to serve probation, and another was deported.
The Florida ring is not believed to have hacked into TJX's computer systems to steal the data. Instead, it used stolen card data that it purchased from others to create counterfeit credit cards, which were then used to buy gift cards at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.
Investigators are still trying to determine who breached TJX's systems, and no arrests have been made for that crime.