5 Minn. banks sue Target over data breach

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A group of southern Minnesota banks has sued suing Target Corp., alleging damages from the retailer's data breach late last year.

The five banks are First Farmers & Merchants banks. The lawsuit was filed Saturday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

The complaint doesn't specify a damage amount but says the banks have had to refund fraudulent charges, close and reopen checking and savings accounts and cancel and re-issue credit and debit cards.

"The way that this has happened, it's the banks whose exposure is greatest here," said Garrett Blanchfield, a St. Paul lawyer representing the local banks. "We think the Minnesota laws provide a sound basis for us."

The banks are in Luverne, Fairmont, Brownsdale, Grand Meadow and Cannon Falls, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/MZNyhz) reported.

The sister banks, which make a lot of agricultural loans, together have assets of about $657 million and employ about 166 people, government filings show. The banks are subsidiaries of Minneapolis-based 215 Holding Co., and declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A Target spokeswoman told the newspaper the Minneapolis-based retailer does not comment on litigation.

Some attorneys say the lawsuit could be the first test of Minnesota's "Plastic Card Security Act." The 2007 law requires a merchant that improperly holds payment card data and doesn't adequately protect it to reimburse financial institutions for any losses from a breach.

As of February, banks and credit unions nationally estimated they've spent more than $200 million replacing credit and debit cards whose data were snatched in the attack on Target's computer system.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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