If you discovered your private and personal information was subject to a data breach, contact the class actions and commercial litigation attorneys of Wallace Miller immediately. You might be entitled to compensation for the company’s negligent handling of your information. We could represent you in a claim or class-action lawsuit against them.
Cybersecurity is the protection of data, networks, and devices from criminal use or unauthorized access. It also involves ensuring integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information. Biometric security is a type of cybersecurity that recognizes a person using biological or behavioral characteristics. Unlocking a smartphone with a fingerprint is a common example of biometric security.
Unfortunately, a hacker or another person could access your online accounts and obtain your credit card number, social media login, Social Security number, email address, and a range of other personal information. They can use the information they find to steal your identity or take out a loan in your name. This security breach can damage your credit score and even lead to criminal charges on your record because of illegal activity performed by someone else.
At Wallace Miller, we understand the devastation of learning a company hasn’t kept your confidential information secure. When a data breach occurs, it puts your finances and future at risk. Our privacy law attorneys might be able to pursue legal action on your behalf to hold the negligent company liable. We can fight for your rights and seek the maximum compensation available.
For a free consultation to learn more about your available legal options, call Wallace Miller at (312) 261-6193 today.
Understanding the Elements of Personal Information
You submit your personal information whenever you apply for a credit card, open a new social media account, take out a loan, or make an online purchase. Typically, you must enter your name and email address, but the type and extent of the information you provide vary by the type of transaction or account.
Giving your information to companies has become second nature. You’re used to it since you spend most of your life storing, managing, and submitting personal information online. You might even lose track of all the confidential details you gave to dozens or hundreds of companies over the years. That means countless company databases and websites have the information you don’t want anyone else to access.
Common types of personal information companies store include:
- Name and aliases
- Physical and mailing address
- Passport number
- Bank account and credit card numbers
- Health information
- Account names
- Internet Protocol Address (IP address)
- Driver’s license number
- Email address
- Social Security number
Hackers can use any of this information to commit crimes, such as identity theft and other activities that put you at risk.
Why Data Privacy Is Valuable
You might not think that a third party accessing your information is a problem. Even if a data breach occurs, you believe you don’t have to face the consequences because the credit card company will make sure you don’t have to pay for the charges made by someone else. Many people don’t realize the significant ramifications of someone stealing personal information. Reporting a fraudulent credit card charge or loan application might seem like enough to avoid suffering adverse effects.
Unfortunately, reporting fraudulent activity puts a band-aid over the wound but doesn’t necessarily resolve the problem. Despite notifying your financial institutions of the fraud, avoiding the civil or legal penalties of someone else’s misconduct might not be possible.
The most common complications of a data breach include:
- Private information that becomes publicly available
- Unauthorized bank accounts
- Criminal record
- Unauthorized credit cards
- Interest, fees, and other monetary penalties
- Lower credit score
- Accounts that go to collections
It seems unfair, but you could face harsh punishment while the real criminal escape the incident without suffering the consequences of their actions.
Common Types of Data Breaches
Federal and state laws regulate how companies handle consumers’ personal information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pursues law enforcement action against companies that don’t uphold their promises to maintain consumers’ privacy rights. Despite these regulations, data breaches can occur.
A data breach can result from a range of methods, including:
- Unsecure online security systems – Many companies know hackers can eventually find their way around an online security system, especially if it’s been around a long time. Frequent updates are necessary to protect the data of consumers. However, updating security systems can be costly, so companies sometimes avoid it. This could result in outdated security systems holding consumer information, increasing the risk of a data breach.
- Unauthorized sale of personal information – Many states have laws requiring companies to notify consumers about how the company handles customer information. However, some businesses profit from selling customer data to third parties. This allows unknown third parties to get personal information and do what they want with it.
- Malware – Malware is the shortened term for malicious software. A hacker installs the software over a network so it ends up on the intended target’s device. This allows the program to scour the device for the user’s stored personal information.
- Ransomware – Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks a person’s access to their own device unless they pay a third party the demanded ransom. A trojan often delivers the ransomware. When the intended target opens the program, the trojan installs the software.
- Hacking attacks – Hacking involves using a computer to gain unauthorized access to someone’s personal information. Hackers know how to access online databases to obtain any personal information on those databases.
- Decommissioning of IT assets – Old assets contain consumers’ sensitive information by default despite a company updating their network devices, computers, and other IT assets. Decommissioning old IT assets require special attention to prevent someone from accessing the personal information they contain.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all types of data breaches. You should reach out to Wallace Miller immediately if you are the victim of a data breach so you can determine whether you qualify for legal action against the negligent company.
Determining Liability After a Data Breach
A company can be liable if a hacker or another individual targets them and gains access to consumer information. However, you must have evidence that the company possessed or owned your data, and their negligence contributed to the data breach.
The most common examples of a company’s liability for a data breach include:
- The company or an employee directly contributed to leaking personal information
- The company failed to notify all affected consumers of the breach promptly
- The company didn’t maintain an up-to-date security system as required by state law
- The company failed to mitigate the harm their consumers could suffer upon discovering the data breach
Compensation for a Data Breach
You could pursue legal action against the company if they negligently stored or maintained your personal information. Typically, data breaches affect a significant number of people. Instead of filing an individual lawsuit, you could join a class-action lawsuit.
Class actions involve a group of people known as class members combining their lawsuits into a single legal action against the same defendant. One or a few plaintiffs named in the lawsuit acts as the representatives. They must have suffered the same or similar harm as other members of the class and represent their interests.
The compensation you receive in a data breach case could compensate for losses, such as:
- Actual misuse – Actual misuse is a loss resulting from another’s misuse of the victim’s personal information after a data breach. This can include damaged credit status, loss of property, stolen funds, or crimes committed in the victim’s name.
- Heightened risk of harm – Even if fraud or identity theft hasn’t occurred, a data breach entitles victims to compensation despite the company fulfilling its obligation to notify all affected consumers. This is due to the increased risk of harm from an unauthorized release of private information.
- Expectation losses – Expectation losses, also called benefits of the bargain, are losses resulting from a breach of contract. Compensation could allow the victim to return to the financial standing they would be in if the negligent company hadn’t harmed them.
- Consequential and mitigation losses – Compensation is available for additional expenses a victim incurs after a data breach. Examples include regaining security after the incident, hiring a credit monitoring service, performing forensic searches, and other costs necessary to return to the economic standing held before the breach.
- Emotional distress – Emotional distress is a form of emotional loss. Consumers harmed by data breaches often experience psychological trauma, fear of the incident’s consequences on their personal or professional life, anxiety, and depression.
At Wallace Miller, we understand the importance of recovering the compensation you need to cover your total losses. You should not pay for your incurred expenses out of pocket when someone else is at fault for the data breach. Our privacy law attorneys know how to determine the value of a client’s case and pursue the maximum financial award possible.
If you are the victim of a data breach, contact Wallace Miller right now to discuss the incident with us. We can meet you for a free consultation to review the circumstances and determine whether you’re eligible to participate in a class-action lawsuit against the negligent company.
Call us at (312) 261-6193 today or contact us online. Let us advocate for your rights and fight for the justice you deserve.