Notices are going out to millions of customers who may have had credit card information compromised in a data breach at stores such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
The notices contain information about eligibility for compensation such as vouchers and credit monitoring to be provided under a proposed settlement with TJX Cos., the operator of more than 2,500 discount stores.
Mailings and newspaper and magazine notices began Friday in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico under an order by the federal court in Boston handling a consumer lawsuit against TJX.
The court hopes to reach people who made purchases or returned items during a breach that is believed to have begun in mid-2005 but wasn't detected until December 2006. The breach involved stores owned by Framingham, Mass.-based TJX Cos. such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, A.J. Wright, Winners and HomeSense.
Members of the class-action lawsuit who could stand to benefit include customers who believe their personal financial data was stolen or put at risk, and believe they were harmed. Those people can send in a claim form to ask for benefits if they're eligible, or they can ask to be excluded from the settlement if they provide notice by June 24. They can also object to the terms.
Consumer notices will go out leading to a July 15 court hearing at which a judge will consider whether to approve a settlement reached last September.
A toll-free phone number has been set up for consumer information — 1-866-523-6770 — along with a Web site.
TJX said last March that at least 45.7 million cards were exposed to possible fraud in a breach of its computer systems. Court filings by banks that also sued TJX estimated the number of cards affected at more than 100 million.
The proposed settlement specifies that TJX offer vouchers to customers who show they shopped at TJX stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico — except Bob's Stores — during the breach and incurred costs.
TJX also would provide three years of credit monitoring and identity theft insurance to certain customers who returned merchandise without a receipt and were sent letters notifying them that their driver's license or other identification information may have been compromised.
TJX has also proposed to hold a three-day "Customer Appreciation" sale, although several state attorneys general have opposed that aspect.