Following are some frequently asked questions about data breaches.
What is a data breach?
A data breach involves the unauthorized copying, sharing, viewing, or theft of personal, sensitive, or confidential information. This can include bank account and credit card information, addresses, social security information, medical information, and other personally identifiable information.
How will I know if my data has been compromised?
There are two main ways that you will find out if your data has been compromised. On a general level, a news report will inform you that a company or organization that you do business with or that in some way stores your personal information has had a data breach that made thousands or millions of people’s data vulnerable.
More specifically, when these breaches occur, the company responsible should contact anyone whose information was either stolen or compromised. That contact could be via email or a letter or some other form that will inform you that your information has been breached, misplaced or leaked. When you receive that letter you will know for sure your data has been compromised.
Unfortunately, without either of the two situations above, it’s very difficult to know when your personal information is compromised.
Has my data been breached?
The only way to know for sure is when the company or organization affected contacts you to tell you your information was breached and what information was accessed.
What are the first steps I should take once a data breach has happened?
This depends on what information was taken. If it was anything that can be used to access your finances—such as bank account information, ATM card information or credit card information—the prudent thing to do is close or block the accounts and contact your bank. If your Social Security Number and/or address has been taken, you are at risk of becoming the victim of identity theft. There are services you can subscribe to and the companies responsible can be forced to pay for some fraud alert subscription services.
How common are data breaches?
Unfortunately, these data breaches are all too common and they happen to companies of varying size. But the trend seems to be that the number and size of the data breaches is increasing.
Can I prevent a data breach from happening to me?
The only way to fully prevent a data breach is to go off the grid entirely, which is almost impossible these days. There are steps you can take to lessen the risks, such as not shopping online or giving your information out, but once a company has your information, there’s a chance that personal information can be taken.
Other steps to protect yourself include not clicking on any links in unfamiliar emails or opening emails from unknown or strange addresses. If you get emails with odd grammatical errors or from an account you don’t know, delete them.
Using double authentication on all your accounts can protect you as well. Double authentication requires not only a password but a code that is sent to your phone to ensure the proper person is accessing your account. If someone tries to break into your account with just a password, they won’t be able to. They’ll need to have access to your phone to receive the code.
What is the biggest risk associated with a data breach?
Identity theft is the biggest risk because it can cause years of problems and severe consequences for you. Identity theft can create issues that take years to resolve and can affect your credit rating and your finances.
The other issue is that a data breach is an invasion of your privacy. Your personal information, your emails, and other items are being accessed and possibly used without your permission.
What is the purpose of filing a lawsuit in cases where no money is stolen?
It’s important to force these companies to be accountable for their negligence. Their mistakes put your information and your finances at risk. The only way to force them to change and take personal information privacy seriously is to hold them financially accountable for what they’ve done.
Many companies are not doing what they need to do to protect people’s information, mainly because many of them put profits ahead of people.
If companies offer credit monitoring and consumers accept it, can I still file a lawsuit?
Accepting credit monitoring shouldn’t affect your right to file a lawsuit unless you sign a release of your claims.
What is the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data breach?
The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data breach occurred when Cambridge Analytica allegedly accessed the private information of millions of Facebook users without the users’ permission. That information, including places of residence, allowed Cambridge Analytica to build psychographic profiles. Facebook is under fire for allegedly knowing about the breach but not properly securing user information.
At what point should I contact a lawyer?
If you have received a letter confirming you have been a victim of identity theft, it’s a good idea to contact a data breach lawyer. They can advise you of your rights and answer any questions you have about the data breach and the steps to take.
Data Breach Lawyers
Data breach attorneys at Cutter Law P.C. have extensive experience advocating for clients who have been affected by companies that failed to properly protect their personal information. We’re committed to protecting your rights and holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation if you have been a victim of a data breach.