If you’ve had your personal identity information stolen, you know it is scary and frustrating. Unfortunately, with the increase of personal information stored on computer systems, it is becoming increasingly easier to become a victim of identity theft through cyber attacks or ransomware attacks through spam and phishing emails. For example, major companies and employers, such as Equifax, Target and Anthem, have recently entered into settlements following a data breach lawsuit. Let’s take a look at the details of a data breach and how it can result in a lawsuit.
What Happens During a Data Breach?
In most cases, a data breach results in the release of personal identity information including names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, direct deposit information, health information and contact information without authorization of the owner. Even if a cybercriminal does not obtain all of someone’s personal information in a cyber attack, he or she can cross-reference the stolen data with other sources found on the dark web to create “Fullz” packages, which are groups of full information on a victim.
What Occurs When Information is Stolen?
When a company or entity’s information is stolen, it can be for several reasons, including:
- Failing to train employees on cybersecurity protocols to prevent phishing emails or other scams;
- Not using an effective password management system or encryption protocol for sensitive information;
- Failing to have password management and encryption protocols for internal and external emails;
- Failing to implement guidelines for maintaining and communicating sensitive data; and
- Failing to implement protocols for requesting and responding to requests for the transfer of sensitive information through a secure file transfer system.
Once a cybercriminal obtains the personally identifiable information, it can be used to create fake IDs, apply for loans, open credit cards, apply for government benefits, use information over the phone to convince banks or stores to open new accounts or make fraudulent purchases. Identity theft victims must spend valuable time reviewing payment card account statements, monitoring credit reports for unauthorized activity in addition to monitoring personal accounts and changing passwords.
Why Should You Develop a Data Breach Lawsuit?
Data breach lawyers can help identity theft victims recover for their losses by bringing lawsuits against the companies that do not implement or follow adequate security measures. These data privacy lawyers can help recover for out-of-pocket losses and time spent recovering from fraud, identity theft or other misuse of personal data. Other benefits of a data breach lawsuit include identity theft protection and identity restoration services.
Additionally, states have laws that require entities to provide notice when personally identifiable information is compromised. In Missouri, the notification requirements are found in RSMo § 407.1500.
How Do I Protect My Information Online?
It is important to take the necessary steps to protect your identity online in order to avoid a data breach. Our team compiled a few ways you can protect your sensitive information by:
- Using strong passwords that are not used over multiple sites;
- Not posting personal information on social media;
- Not entering personal information while using a public wifi network;
- Using multi-factor authentication for accounts and email;
- Updating software regularly;
- Using antivirus software; and
- Being careful about clicking on links and attachments in your email.
Turn to MHM When a Data Breach Strikes
If you or someone you know receive a notice that your personal information has been compromised or that you are a victim of a data breach, please contact our data breach attorneys to discuss your options.