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Lost your data in a breach?

Data Breach Hacker

In February of 2024, Change Healthcare reported a data breach that led to the loss of an estimated one-third of all of America’s personal information. In March of 2024, AT&T reported a data breach that led to the loss of approximately 73 million people’s personal information. And in April of 2024, JP Morgan reported a data breach that leaked the personal information of approximately 451,000 people. These are some of the biggest data breaches of 2024, but definitely not the only ones. According to Governing, in 2023, there were 3,205 data breaches that impacted 353 million people. 

What is a data breach?

Data breaches occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive information, such as personal data, like your social security number, and financial records, like your credit card information. This can happen through various means, including hacking, malware attacks, insider threats, or even simple human error. Regardless of the method, the impact of a data breach can be severe and long-lasting.  If you know anyone who has experienced the trauma of having their identity stolen, then you know how awful it can be.

What happens if my data is breached?

The fallout from a data breach can be extensive. Your personal information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and financial details, could be used by cybercriminals to commit identity theft. They might open new accounts, make purchases, or engage in other fraudulent activities in your name.  Depending on the nature of the breach, other security risks may arise. For example, if passwords are compromised, cybercriminals could gain access to other accounts you have that use the same or similar credentials. If your financial information is exposed, such as credit card numbers or bank account details, cybercriminals could use this information to make unauthorized transactions. Dealing with the aftermath of a data breach, such as sorting out financial issues or repairing your reputation, can also be emotionally stressful and overwhelming.

Sensitive health information is another area of exposure.  Criminals can impersonate clinics and hospitals to extort payments; they can demand ransoms in exchange for not publicizing confidential diagnoses.  They can wreak havoc with your life.

What can I do if my data is breached?

The options for protecting yourself after your data is breached are limited. Your information has already been leaked and is out in the world. But there are a few things you can do to try and mitigate the damage. First, you should change your passwords, especially for accounts associated with the breached data. Use strong, unique passwords for each account to minimize the risk of further unauthorized access. You can also set up fraud alerts. Most breached organizations provide 12 to 24 months of free credit monitoring. If they don’t, you can contact the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to set up fraud alerts on your credit reports. This can help alert you if someone tries to open new accounts using your information. 

Lastly, you can choose to pursue legal action against the responsible party. In cases where a data breach affects a large number of individuals affected parties may band together to file a class action lawsuit against the responsible party. These lawsuits can result in substantial settlements or judgments, holding negligent companies accountable for their actions.

When you find out about a data breach in which you are a victim, chances are that someone will file a lawsuit.  The named plaintiff–the person who deals with the class action attorneys in order to get the lawsuit filed–usually gets a payment from the lawsuit that is considerably larger than the money recovered by passive class members.  It pays to be the lead plaintiff.  It doesn’t cost any money to sign up with reputable and experienced lawyers.  Being the lead plaintiff allows you access to information about what is happening with the lawsuit. It gives you the chance to receive financial compensation that is greater than that of the typical class member.

How can Sanford Law Firm help?

We’ve helped start hundreds of lawsuits against hundreds of companies, from large corporations to small businesses, for allowing their customers’ and employees’ sensitive, personal information to be breached. Together with our partners, we are fighting to protect our clients’ privacy rights. By suing the company or organization that has lost your data, you can receive compensation, such as monetary damages, credit monitoring services, or other remedies. A lawsuit is also a great way to show companies that you will stand up for your rights.

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