Data breaches put the financial health of California consumers at risk. When criminals breach a database maintained by a retailer or a financial institution, their access to credit card or bank account numbers may subject consumers to fraudulent credit card charges or unauthorized withdrawals. Database breaches that expose other identifying information, including social security numbers and dates of birth, place consumers at risk of identity theft.
About two-thirds of data breaches during 2014 and 2015 affected healthcare organizations or health insurers, exposing patients’ confidential medical information. In addition to businesses, government agencies and educational institutions are regular targets of hackers.
According to the FBI, 12.5% of all cyber crime in 2014 occurred in California. The California Department of Justice reports that 1.5 million Californians were the victims of identity theft in 2014.
If your identifying information or account numbers are stolen in a data breach, you may face harassment from debt collectors for charges you did not make. Identity theft can destroy your credit rating and harm your employability. If someone uses your identity during an arrest, you may end up with a criminal record. Undoing the damage is often an expensive, time-consuming task.
When your private information has been compromised, a class action lawsuit may be your best remedy. The Cooper Law Firm represents individuals who have been victimized by the unauthorized disclosure of data and by the theft of personal information during a data breach. Contact the California data breach attorneys at The Cooper Law Firm for a free case evaluation if you discover that a data breach or unauthorized disclosure has placed your credit card number, social security number, or personal identifying information at risk of being misused.
Data Breach Compensation in California
Data breaches occur in a variety of ways. Common examples include:
- Hackers break into a database maintained on a company’s servers.
- Someone who has gained unauthorized access to a company’s computer downloads data from the computer to a flash drive.
- A thief steals a laptop that contains sensitive data.
- The sender of a “spoof email” or participants in a phishing scheme use a false identity to persuade someone to respond with confidential data.
- Company employees release passwords to company computers out of spite or in exchange for cash.
Recent examples of data breaches include:
- Identity thieves stole tax and salary data involving hundreds of thousands of individuals from Equifax, a credit reporting bureau.
- Hackers gained access to over 360 million MySpace passwords.
- Hackers stole an unknown number of credit card numbers used by customers of Noodles & Company.
- Hackers breached the computers of two California CPA firms, gaining access to clients’ social security numbers, wage information, and bank account numbers. In one case the hackers also gained payroll information concerning the firm’s employees, including their direct deposit bank account numbers and social security numbers.
- A data breach at BeautifulPeople.com gave hackers access to the addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and private email messages of more than one million members.
- Hackers gained shopping cart information, including names, addresses, and credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes, concerning customers of the LuckyPet website.
- Hackers have twice stolen credit card numbers and associated information from the Trump Hotel chain, resulting in unauthorized credit card charges for hotel guests.
If you were the victim of a data breach, contact our data breach lawyers to learn more about your rights.
Other Illegal Disclosures of Private Information
Unintended disclosures of private information occur when sensitive information is mishandled. It might be mistakenly posted to a website or included in emails that are sent to the wrong party. Although electronic data is more often disclosed, paper records containing personal information kept in files can also be stolen or lost.
Less commonly, someone with inside access to private data will deliberately disclose it. Those actions are usually committed by disgruntled employees or outside contractors. California debt collection laws help protect victims in such circumstances.
Recent examples of unauthorized disclosure include:
- A school district responded to a parent’s email request for information about the parent’s child by sending confidential records pertaining to 700,000 students.
- A vendor that provides benefit management services to Google inadvertently sent personally identifying information concerning Google employees, including their social security numbers, to the benefits manager of another organization.
- Complying with a request for disclosure of the salaries earned by employees of the Berkeley School District, a district employee sent a record that included the employees’ social security numbers.
- An employee who was leaving the FDIC downloaded sensitive information concerning 44,000 bank customers onto a personal flash drive.
If you were the victim of an unauthorized data disclosure, The Cooper Law Firm can help you understand your rights and remedies.
Data Breach Class Action Lawsuits
A recent analysis found that most class action lawsuits for data breaches are filed against a few companies involved in well-publicized cases. That may be because only a small percentage of data breaches are publicly reported. Some companies never tell consumers that their data has been compromised. Other companies convey that information quietly and urge consumers to keep the breach confidential.
When individuals become aware that they are the victim of a data breach, their rights can often be vindicated in class action lawsuits. The laws upon which the lawsuits will be based depend on the facts of the case. In some cases, the lawsuit is based on a company’s delay in reporting the breach to the consumer, which deprives the consumer of the ability to take prompt protective action. In some cases, the lawsuit is based on the company’s negligence in failing to guard against the breach. Other cases are based on a breach of the contract between the company and the consumer. Lawsuits may also be based upon violations of:
- California laws governing fraud and unfair competition.
- California’s Data Security Breach Reporting Law.
- California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.
- The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
- The Stored Communications Act.
- The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
- Banking regulations involving cybersecurity.
- Federal privacy laws that regulate federal agencies.
What Victims Can Do
The Cooper Law Firm can evaluate your case and advise you about the laws that give you the best chance of obtaining a class action remedy if your private information was disclosed or stolen. Victims can call (844) 724-9200 to obtain a free case evaluation from our experienced data breach lawyers in Orange County.