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Heartland Discover agree to 5M breach settlement
PRINCETON, N.J. (9/7/10)--Card payment processor Heartland Payment Systems has agreed to pay Discover Financial Services $5 million as a settlement in its massive data breach case, which forced credit unions and other financial institutions across the country to reissue credit and debit cards. Heartland announced the agreement--the fourth and final one it has made in a series of lawsuits--on Thursday. Heartland announced the data breach in January 2009. The breach involved malicious software that compromised card numbers, expiration dates and in some cases names of the consumers using the debit or credit cards at Heartland's network of 250,000 businesses. The breach exposed 130 million credit and debit cards (News Now July 20). Heartland had set aside $140 million to cover lawsuits from the break-in (Bank Systems & Technology.com Sept. 3). The latest settlement brings its settlement costs with card companies and class action suits to a total of $112.1 million. In May, Heartland entered a $41.1 million settlement with MasterCard (News Now July 20 and May 21). In January it agreed to pay up to $60 million to issuers of Visa-branded credit and debit cards (News Now Jan. 11 and July 20). Earlier it entered into a $3.6 million settlement with American Express and a $2.4 million settlement in a consumer cardholder class action (News Now Dec. 21 and Dec. 29). When settlements were announced in the Visa and MasterCard cases, attorneys for a small group of credit unions and banks indicated the settlements amounted to card-issuing institutions receiving only "pennies on the dollar." Last month the hackers responsible for the Heartland breach--including American Albert Gonzalez and two Russian accomplices--were indicted in a U.S. District Court in New Jersey on charges they carried out the largest hacking and identity theft in U.S. history. The group allegedly stole information about more than 130 million debit and credit cards by hacking into computer systems of Heartland, Hannaford Bros. supermarkets, and 7-Eleven. Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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