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Banks file first Minnesota lawsuits against Target over data breach

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A group of five southern Minnesota banks is suing Target to recover costs associated with the data breach at the Minneapolis-based retailer.

Similar lawsuits have been filed by banks around the country but the Star Tribune reports the First Farmers & Merchants banks are the first in Target's home state to sue the company.

While the suit does not specify an amount, the banks say they've had to refund fraudulent charges, close and re-open accounts, and issue new credit and debit cards, the Star Tribune says. According to the paper, the banks that filed the suit are in Luverne, Fairmont, Cannon Falls, Grand Meadow, and Brownsdale.

The first Wisconsin suit was filed less than two weeks ago. In that case a Madison-area man and a Wausau bank jointly filed a class action lawsuit over the breach, which exposed the credit and debit card numbers of an estimated 40 million Target customers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported then that more than 70 lawsuits had been filed against Target.

The Star Tribune says banks and credit unions estimated this month they've spent more than $200 million replacing debit and credit cards that were compromised in the hacking of Target's computer system.

Two legal experts who spoke to the journal Bank Info Security last week agreed that the lawsuits are not likely to reap much in the way of rewards. But they say by filing the suits banks are sending a message that retailers should cover the expenses related to security breaches.

Also Monday, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel recounted the company's response to the data breach in a post in the company newsletter, A Bullseye View.

Steinhafel defended the decision to reveal that in addition to the theft of payment information, 70 million customers had personal information such as their names and addresses stolen. He titled the article Transparency, Timeliness, and Putting Principles First.

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