By Natasha Brown


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Wawa is preparing to defend itself from half a dozen lawsuits related to a massive data breach that went unnoticed for months. One of the lawyers involved in the lawsuits says he thinks Wawa should have done more to protect its customers.

The data breach may have exposed the credit and debit card information of millions of its customers.

“Our phone has been ringing off the hook and we have a dedicated team that are responding to people,” attorney Benjamin Johns said.

At least six lawsuits seeking class-action status have already been filed in federal court in Philadelphia.

Wawa Data Breach: How To Protect Your Identity, Financial Information

Benjamin Johns represents a woman in Woodbury Heights, Gloucester County who noticed something was terribly wrong just before Christmas.

“She noticed a fraudulent transaction. It was Christmas Eve when this occurred and she contacted her bank, Captial One, which advised her this was a fraudulent transaction that’s connected to the Wawa data breach,” Johns said.

Wawa found malware on its payment processing servers on Dec. 10 and contained it just two days later, but the malware had already been running on its systems since early March.

The breach compromised cardholders’ names, numbers and expiration dates used in stores and at gas pumps.

Johns’ client says her Capital One card was fraudulently being used to try to purchase more than $2,500 in online merchandise.

“Her card was canceled and she was stuck without having the ability to use credit cards at the worse possible time of the year for that to happen,” Johns said.

Wawa has since issued a statement, reading in part: “We believe this malware no longer poses a risk to customers using payment cards at Wawa. We are also working with law enforcement to support their ongoing criminal investigation. We continue to take steps to enhance the security of our systems.”

Wawa says its ATM machines in stores were not impacted in the incident.

Meanwhile, the company has set up a toll free number for customers to call with questions. It’s also offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to anyone whose information may have been compromised.