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08.05.21

What to know about Wawa’s data breach settlement

BY Daniel A. Schnapp

The famed convenience store, Wawa, has agreed to distribute $12 million worth of gift cards and cash as part of a settlement with “22 million potential class members” arising out of a class action alleging a data breach. Consumers are entitled to receive approximately $9 million in gift cards and cash payments, but those cards and payments could be reduced depending on how many customers submit claims.

On July 30, 2021, US District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted conditional approval of the settlement. A hearing is set for January for final approval of the settlement.

The class action alleges that Wawa sustained a major data breach whereby hackers illegally accessed the company’s point-of-sale system and installed malware targeting payment terminals both inside the stores and at gas pumps. In addition, the hackers allegedly then accessed payment card information and offered the information for sale on the dark web.

The settlement also would require an approximate $35 million overhaul of Wawa’s data security as well as its in-store and fuel dispenser payment systems.

Lastly, the attorneys representing the class action plaintiffs will receive a $3.2 million counsel fee.

The case and settlement highlight the need for businesses to continue to pay close attention to their data breach vulnerabilities particularly when the use of consumer credit card information is involved. The case and settlement also show that no business is safe from the nefarious motives of hackers and the ability to exploit gaps in a company’s security framework.

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Daniel A. Schnapp

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