Privacy and Data Breaches
In March 2022, Seattle-based MCG Health was hacked, exposing the personal information of more than a million patients. Names, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and medical information were among the data stolen. To make matters worse, those affected weren’t notified until almost three months later. Multiple class action lawsuits have been filed against MCG Health for their negligent cybersecurity practices and the impact on the data breach victims.
Cyberattacks and Data Breaches Are Common
Unfortunately, cyberattacks, privacy breaches, and data leaks are all too common in the Internet age. Over 53 million people had their data stolen in the first half of 2022 alone. Having your personal information stolen can have life-altering consequences and cause undue stress for data breach victims.
Businesses have an obligation to their customers to protect their data and inform them if something happens to it. Most companies will usually offer data leak victims free credit or identity monitoring for a year or two. In some cases, this is enough. But if a business loses customer data in a cyberattack and further investigation reveals it was because of poor cybersecurity systems, they could potentially be sued in a class action lawsuit.
How do data breaches happen?
The most common causes of a data or privacy breach are weak or stolen passwords, or when companies use software or cloud-based applications with bugs that thieves use to break into the system.
Sometimes employees download software that is malware in disguise. Least common, but still serious, disgruntled employees may steal and then sell the information.
How to Protect Your Information After a Data Breach
If you received a data breach notification letter, here are some steps you can take to safeguard your identity.
- Check your credit report. You can get one for free from annualcreditreport.com. Notify the major bureaus and ask them to place a fraud alert on your accounts.
- Consider placing a credit freeze. It’s free and makes it harder for someone to open accounts using your information.
- Subscribe to a credit and identity monitoring service. They will send you alerts for any suspicious activity.
- Regularly change your passwords and security questions. Never use the same password for your banking and credit accounts! You can also use password managers like Bit Warden or Last Pass.
- Set up two factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible.
- Set up security alerts with your bank and credit cards. These will text or email you whenever there is suspicious activity.
- File your taxes as early as you can. Thieves can use your Social Security number to get a tax refund or even a job.
- Ignore threatening phone calls. Scammers will threaten you unless you pay for taxes or debt. Don’t believe them even if have part or all of your Social Security number or say they’re from the IRS.
How do I know if my information has been compromised?
Hackers will use stolen information in different ways. Here are some signs that your information from a privacy breach has been compromised:
- Unauthorized charges to your bank account or credit card.
- Your tax return is rejected, or you are asked to prove your identity to the IRS to complete your tax return.
- Statements or mail for accounts you didn’t open. Alternatively, you may stop receiving bills or statements from accounts you do own.
- Collection notices or calls for a debt that you don’t owe
- Errors on your credit report
- Being denied for credit, even though you have a history of good credit
- A warrant for your arrest
Know Your Rights with an Experienced Data Breach Lawyer
Too many companies don’t take cybersecurity seriously, and their customers are the one that pay the price when a data leak happens.
Data breach victims may be able to receive compensation through a class action lawsuit. This could include additional years of credit and identity monitoring, reimbursement for losses due to fraud related to the breach, compensation for time spent dealing with the breach, attorneys’ fees or nominal damages.
If you are the victim of a data or privacy breach, give us a call at (206) 442-9106 to learn more about your rights and how a data breach attorney can help you.