If your payment card numbers were stolen in a massive Wawa data breach, you can now request gift cards or cash under a proposed class action settlement — or reject the deal.
A federal judge last month gave preliminary approval to an agreement that would require Wawa to pay customers as much as $9 million, mostly in $5 or $15 gift cards, to settle a lawsuit over the data breach. On Monday, Wawa released details on how consumers can submit claims for payments, opt out of the settlement, or object to the deal by November.
Here’s what you need to know about the proposed settlement, including who qualifies for payment, how to request a gift card or cash, and whether this is a good deal for consumers:
What is this lawsuit about?
In 2019, cybercriminals hacked into Wawa’s point-of-sale systems, installed malware, and stole customers’ payment card information. The attack exposed cardholders’ names, numbers, and expiration dates used in-store and at gas pumps at Wawa stores. The data breach lasted for nine months and hackers tried to sell stolen customer payment card data on the “dark web.”
After announcing the data breach, Wawa was hit with a wave of lawsuits claiming the company failed to protect customers’ payment card info, despite the foreseeability of a data breach. The suits were consolidated into one class-action complaint, which further alleged that some customers were defrauded as a result.
Wawa reached a proposed settlement with plaintiffs’ lawyers that would resolve the consumer claims against the convenience store chain. A judge must still give final approval to the deal, with a hearing scheduled for January.
How much would Wawa pay me?
Depending on your case, you can get a $5 or $15 gift card, or up to $500 in cash. Under the agreement, the company would provide customers with as much as $8 million in Wawa gift cards and pay as much as $1 million in cash payments to affected consumers.
If you used a credit or debit card to make a purchase at Wawa between March 4, 2019 and Dec. 12, 2019, did not suffer attempted or actual fraud, and attest that you spent some time monitoring your payment card accounts as a result of the breach, you can get a $5 gift card. Customers must provide proof of the transaction date at Wawa, such as a store receipt, a bank or credit card statement, or a screen shot from a bank or credit card company website or mobile app.
If you can provide “reasonable proof” of attempted or actual fraud on your card, and spent some time monitoring your account as a result, you can get a $15 gift card.
And if you can provide “reasonable documentary proof” that you lost money because of an actual or attempted fraudulent charge, you could be paid up to $500 in cash.
In addition to payments to customers, Wawa would also have to spend at least $35 million to improve its cybersecurity. And lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked for $3.2 million to cover fees and expenses, administration costs, and cash payments of as much as $1,000 for 13 named plaintiffs.
Wait, why am I getting a gift card?
Lawyers representing consumers in the case said the gift cards are appropriate because Wawa has “unusually loyal” customers, who routinely return to the company’s roughly 900 stores. The convenience store chain, based in Wawa, Delaware County, said its gift cards have a 97.2% usage rate, according to court filings.
More than 3,000 products in Wawa stores, or about 78% of the items, cost less than $5. The gift cards, which would be valid for one year, can’t be used for cigarettes or other tobacco products.
But not everyone is happy with the deal. Lawyers for Wawa employees argued that gift cards provide little value to consumers who no longer live near a Wawa or choose not to shop there. However, U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter said the gift cards were adequate relief and gave preliminary approval to the deal.
What are my legal options?
There are 22 million class members, who include all U.S. residents who used a credit or debit card at a Wawa store during the nine-month period. Excluded are Wawa’s executive officers and the judge overseeing the case.
You have until Nov. 29 to submit a claim for payment. By submitting a claim, you would give up your right to sue Wawa over the data breach.
If you want to to retain the right to sue Wawa over the breach, you will need to exclude yourself from the class. The deadline to do that is Nov. 12. Consumers who opt out would not receive payment.
You also have a right to stay in the class and submit a written argument that the settlement should not be approved. You would still be bound by the settlement if it is approved and not be allowed to exclude yourself. The deadline to object is Nov. 12.
If you do nothing, you wouldn’t receive any payment, be bound by the settlement’s terms, and lose the right to sue Wawa regarding the data breach.
Consumers can submit claims for payments on the settlement website, which is www.wawaconsumerdatasettlement.com. The website also includes more information on how to object to or opt out of the agreement. Consumers can also call 1 (866) 817-4934 for help.