Recent data breaches have been massive and affected millions of consumers and created a crisis of security of personal information.
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach occurs when someone gains unauthorized access to confidential information. In most cases, this information is then used for personal, financial, or political gain.
The most recent massive data breach targeted Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus that stores financial and other information of American consumers. More than 143 million people were affected. Prior to that, a breach of Yahoo’s confidential information affected more than 1.4 billion people.
Companies are responsible for exercising “reasonable care,” which means they must do what the average person would expect them to do to protect consumer’s information. If a company that had access to your personal or financial information and failed to take reasonable action to protect that information, you could be eligible for compensation.
Recent Data Breaches
Consumers are constantly at risk of being victims of data breaches. In recent years, these breaches have become increasingly common. A number of well-known companies have settled multi-million data breach lawsuits. Some of the most notable recent settlements include:
- Home Depot (affected 50 million cardholders)
- Sony (PlayStation network breach)
- Ashley Madison
- Sony (employee information breach)
- Stanford University Hospital and Clinics
- AvMed Inc.
- Schnuck Markets
If you have been a victim of a data breach, you could be eligible for compensation. Considering the risk data breaches create and the financial damage they can cause in a person’s life, high-dollar settlements are common.
How Do You Know If You Were a Victim of a Data Breach?
Anyone can be a victim of a data breach. In most cases, if a breach occurs, you’ll be notified by the company affected. However, many of these companies have been accused of taking far longer than necessary to notify consumers of a breach.
Instead of assuming nothing has happened until you are notified, it’s important you carefully monitor your credit and bank accounts for anything unusual. Additionally, there are websites that allow you to search for information about whether or not your information was involved in a data breach.
If anything seems suspicious or you become aware that your information might have been jeopardized in a breach, you should contact the affected company for more information. And you should speak to an attorney to determine if you are eligible for compensation.
To qualify to participate in a data breach lawsuit, you’ll need to determine if:
- Your information was a part of the breach
- The company involved failed to adopt safeguards to prevent breaches
- The company involved notified customers in a timely manner of the breach
An attorney will review the company’s policies on data security and compare those policies to standards in the industry. If any state or federal data security laws were violated, you could receive compensation for damages suffered in the breach.
Data Breach Damages
If you are eligible to participate in a data breach lawsuit, you could recover compensation for:
- Costs related to replacement of credit and debit cards
- Costs of obtaining credit reports and credit insurance
- Service fees charged by data security companies that help you monitor, identify and prevent fraudulent activity
- Expenses associated with correcting errors
- Any out-of-pocket expenses you pay in relation to the breach
Data breaches can take an emotional toll and some victims might also be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering.
Every case is different. If you believe you were a victim of a data breach, you should contact an attorney.