Consumer ProtectionWhat Are My Legal Options After a Data Breach?

October 21, 2020
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Do you worry about someone stealing your personal information? Did you know that 7.9 million records became exposed due to 5,183 breaches in 2019?

With COVID-19, cyberattacks have increased, leading to higher risks for a data breach.

Loss of personal information can impact many aspects of your life. Do you know what your legal options are if this happens to you? Keep reading to learn more.

Definition of a Data Breach

data breach is the theft of confidential, sensitive, or personal identifiable information  (PII). This includes any time an unauthorized person views or shares data without permission. The increased connectivity between computers, mobile devices, and the internet elevates this risk.

Once the hacker has your PII, they may commit identity theft or fraud using your name. Commonly they want credit card numbers, social security numbers, and bank account information. They also steal names, phone numbers, addresses, and even biological data.

Top Data Breaches in 2020

As if the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has not been stressful enough, data breaches have exposed PII. An article published on August 1, 2020, described several major breaches this year.

Marriott

On March 31, 2020, the Marriott hotel chain suffered a breach that exposed 5.2 million guests. The hackers used information from the company’s loyalty applications. They gained access to employee’s login credentials.

The breach involved names, birthdates, telephone numbers, travel details, and loyalty program data.

Zoom

Many people have turned to Zoom for business, school, and social events. In the first week in April 2020, hackers stole 500,000 passwords and posted them for sale on the dark web.

The victim’s personal meeting URLs and HostKeys were also made available. The compromised account data included colleges, banks, financial institutions, and others.

Magellan Health

Magellan Health succumbed to a ransomware attack and data breach in April 2020. The cyberattack affected about 365,000 patients. The hackers installed malware that gave them access to employee login credentials.

The ransomware was then deployed via phishing emails that impersonated Magellan Health. They gained access to PII and W-2 information. Additionally, employee ID, Social Security, and Taxpayer ID numbers became exposed.

What to Do After a Data Breach

After a business discovers a data breach, they’re required to notify their customers. If you receive a notice, begin by confirming that the information is true. This is one avenue used by scammers to get your information.

Next, determine the type of data exposure. For example, if it was credit card data, ask your credit card company to close that account and send a new card. Also, consider asking the 3 major credit report agencies to freeze your account.

If your social security number was stolen, this is more difficult to correct. It also places you at greater risk.

Accept offers from the affected company to help limit the damage and protect you. They may offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Immediately change online logins, passwords, and security question answers. Notify your financial institution of the breach so they can put an alert on your account. If your account was compromised, they can close your old account and activate a new one.

File your income taxes early to limit the hacker’s ability to file a fraudulent tax return. Notify the Division of Motor Vehicles if your driver’s license number is at risk. They can flag your number and watch for unauthorized usage.

Legal Option After a Data Breach

Most often, the cybercriminal is hard to find. Thus, you’re often unable to press charges against the criminal.

Consumers do have rights when data breaches occur. Companies may be liable if they didn’t use reasonable practices to protect customer data. The affected consumers can join together and file a class-action lawsuit.

The judge will examine the security steps taken by the company. A negative ruling is given if their procedures fail standard and reasonable protocols.

Can I Sue After a Data Breach?

You also have the right to individually sue the company that experienced the breach. It’s important to retain the services of a lawyer to assist with this process. The burden will lie with you to prove that the company was negligent.

Evidence must show that security measures didn’t meet reasonable or standard protocols. Most victims lack the knowledge needed to present an appropriate legal case.

Where Can I Get Data Breach Help?

When you learn that you’re a victim of a data breach, it’s important to get help. Many different sources are available to help mitigate the negative impact.

Consider speaking with a lawyer. They understand the law and avenues to pursue for both protection and compensation. Attorneys and their staff have exhaustive resources to help you achieve a favorable outcome.

Contact each of the three credit reporting companies. Tell them that your personal information suffered exposure due to a data breach. The following provides contact information for these companies:

  • Equifax: equifax.com or call them at 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian: experian.com or call them at 1-888-397-3742
  • Transunion: transuion.com or call them at 1-800-680-7289

As mentioned earlier, ask them to freeze your accounts. This will make it hard for the thief to open any new account using your information.

Do You Need a Legal Representative?

Are you the victim of a data breach? This can greatly disrupt your life and impact your financial situation.

You may have accounts frozen and lose the ability to get loans or make purchases. Some people even experience liability for fraudulent purchases.

It’s important to seek help from an attorney. Los Angeles Legal Solutions has been assisting Californians since 2001. We’re located in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

Our expertise includes immigration, criminal defense, personal injury, and consumer protections. We also work on cases pertaining to entertainment law and intellectual property claims.

We have a special emphasis on employment, family, and humanitarian-based immigration law. Our attorneys have successfully represented clients from many different countries, including Central America, China, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, and Turkey.

Contact us today to schedule a case evaluation.