Late last Friday, TJX Companies, the parent of Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, announced it had reached a tentative settlement of a class action suit arising out of a massive data security breach at the company. About 45 million credit and debit cards were said to have been compromised.
To hear the story of the settlement told on TV or radio, you might have believed if you had shopped there over the past few years, you would be entitled to three years of credit monitoring service and id theft insurance free:
Associated Press – September 21, 2007 7:04 PM ET
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) – The TJX Companies has agreed to a settlement of class action lawsuits filed after a massive security breach involving customer data.
A statement on the company Web site says the proposed settlement includes three years of credit monitoring along with identity theft insurance for those affected by the breach.
It still requires court approval.
In January, Framingham-based TJX disclosed that computer hackers broke into its systems.
At least 45 million TJX cards were hacked.
That is not the case. A closer reading of the fine print of the proposed agreement severely limits which shoppers will get three years of free services.
2.1 (a) TJX shall make available free of charge (i) to Unreceipted Return Customer Claimants (other than those set forth in subparagraph 2.1(a)(ii)), three years of Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Insurance from the date of subscription,
So, it is primarily shoppers who returned goods without a receipt during the relevant period who qualify for that part of the settlement. That amounts to some 455,000 people, a mere 1% of the total number possibly affected. These people have already received a direct notification of the breach from TJX, and will also be entitled to other compensation if they experienced actual losses.
For everybody else who made a purchase at a TJX store by check, credit or debit card between certain dates, and who suffered more than a $5 loss as a result of the breach, you will be entitled to $30 to $60 in merchandise credit depending on the level of proof you have. Despite the large number of card numbers stolen, it appears that very few people actually became victims of id theft. That may best explain why most of the 45 million cardholders will not be entitled to compensation.
Lastly, TJX stores will have a 15% off everything sale sometime in 2008 for three days, available to everyone.