Data Breach Lawsuits Pile up on T.J Maxx

Wait until earnings later this month. That’s when TJX Companies , parent of retail giants T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and others, is expected to know more about the extent of damages from a recent intrusion into its computer systems containing customer data.

The Framingham, Mass.-based company said it will record a charge of one penny per share in the fourth quarter of fiscal year to cover the costs of investigating the intrusion, beefing up computer security, customer communications and legal fees.

The costs may go higher. Already, consumer groups and banks have filed suit since TJX’s Jan. 18th announcement disclosing the breach. Between 2003 and mid-May through December 2006, the company said, hackers accessed customer information, including credit card and debit card, driver’s licenses and customer names.

At the time, TJX described the assault as impacting an unlimited number of customers and only a relatively small number of customers had information taken. Lawyers filing the first U.S. class- action suit against TJX appear to differ.

“It is apparent the costs to customers and banks will be enormous,” Archie Lamb, a lead counsel at the Birmingham, Ala.-based The Lamb Firm, said in a statement. Lamb, along with Joe Whatley of Boston’s Whatley Drake and Kallas, are suing both TJX and Fifth Third Bank, a credit card processing company, on behalf of consumers and banks. Birmingham, Ala. Residents Jo Wood and Kate Willoughby joined AmeriFirst Bank of Union Springs, Ala.

Banks are upset because they will need to cancel and replace customer credit cards suspected taken in the data loss.

West Virginian Paula G. Mace earlier sued TJX in Boston, claiming her credit card information was stolen. The Massachusetts Bankers Association earlier this week reported so far 60 banks in the state have been contacted by credit card companies about compromised cards. That number could go higher since there are 250 banks in Massachusetts.

In Canada, lawsuits have been filed in six provinces seeking compensation on behalf of all citizens which might be affected by personal information stolen from TJX-owned Winners and HomeSense stories.

Along with lawsuits came resignations as a result of the data breach. TJX said in papers filed with the SEC, acting CEO Bernard Cammarata resigned Jan. 27, remaining as Chairman and a board director. Carol Meyrowitz is now TJX CEO.

Earlier this week on the TJX site, Cammarata told customers TJX doesn’t feel credit monitoring is needed and defended the company’s decision to delay notification of the data loss.

TJX did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

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