Credit cards in a wallet: Users of the bonus program get a few hundred extra
Photo: JONATHAN BAINBRIDGE/ Reuters
Several thousand German customers of Mastercard are currently finding possibly good news in their e-mail inbox.
Under the subject “Comparison offer – Mastercard Priceless Specials data leak” they are offered the payment of 300 euros if they refrain from filing a lawsuit themselves because of a data theft three and a half years ago.
The incident caused a stir in the summer of 2019.
In two tranches, unknown persons had published the data of tens of thousands of customers, including full credit card numbers.
As it turned out, they did not come from actual payment transactions, but from a bonus program in which customers could receive "coins" for their purchases and exchange them for bonuses.
Although the credit card numbers could not be used directly for shopping without an associated check number, banks offered to exchange the affected cards free of charge.
A total of around 90,000 customers are said to have been affected.
A customer wanted at least 5,000 euros in compensation
But such an exchange was not enough for many of those affected, especially since private data such as addresses and telephone numbers were also published.
The company European Society for Data Protection (EuGD) had therefore taken legal action in the interests of Mastercard customers.
However, the payment service provider took the position in court that those affected had no claim against the company: after all, the data had been treated in accordance with the high data protection standards of the credit card industry, the data itself was stolen from a contract service provider.
The district court and the higher regional court in Stuttgart agreed with this view, where a customer had sued for at least 5000 euros in damages with the help of the EuGD.
However, the plaintiff did not give up and went to the Federal Court of Justice in the spring to clarify the “very widely varying case law”, as the EuGD announced.
But before it came to a hearing, the parties came to an agreement out of court.
The 300 euros are to be paid out at the beginning of May to all customers who have been represented by the EuGD and agree to the offer by the end of March.
According to a report by the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", around 2,000 people are affected.
New clients can no longer join the settlement.
EuGD is currently courting clients in proceedings against Facebook and Scalable Capital.
You can also turn down the offer
The bottom line is that Mastercard Europe pays 400 euros per comparison - a quarter of which goes to the EuGD.
Those affected can also refuse to sign, but then they would have to hurry to file a lawsuit themselves before the claims become statute-barred.
The lawsuit before the Federal Court of Justice has since been withdrawn.
Actually, the comparison also includes a confidentiality agreement.
But several recipients insisted on publishing the letter in forums and social media platforms.
Mastercard confirmed the comparison to SPIEGEL, but did not want to comment on the details.
"At no point was there any impact on the Mastercard payment network," the company said in a statement.