Data breaches in the U.S. are on the rise. With the number of breaches in the U.S. skyrocketing from a mere 447 in 2012 to over 1,800 by 2022, it’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” you might find yourself affected by a data breach. Knowing what to do if the unfortunate happens can make all the difference in protecting your identity and peace of mind.

The Reality of Data Breaches in the United States

From large corporations to small businesses, no entity is immune to the risks posed by cyber-attacks. These breaches can expose sensitive personal data like names, addresses, social security numbers, protected health information, and even financial information.

The repercussions of compromised data extend far beyond just the initial incident. Victims often face the following:

  • Identity theft
  • Financial losses
  • Emotional distress

Despite advancements in cybersecurity measures, hackers continue to find innovative ways to exploit system vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to valuable data.

What to Do if Your Information Is Compromised in a Data Breach

When you discover your personal data has been compromised in a data breach, the first step is to remain calm. Staying level-headed will help you make informed decisions.

Next, contact the company or organization where the breach occurred. They should provide guidance on what steps to take and may offer identity theft protection services. Find out exactly what data was compromised as well.

Make sure you change the password for affected accounts. If you have any other accounts that share the same password, change those as well.

Monitor your financial accounts closely for any suspicious activity. Report unauthorized transactions immediately to your bank or credit card company.

Consider freezing your credit report to prevent any new accounts from being opened fraudulently in your name. This adds an extra layer of security while you sort out the breach’s aftermath.

Document everything related to the breach-communication with companies, actions taken, and any financial losses incurred. This documentation will be valuable if you need to pursue legal recourse.

When to Hire an Attorney

Navigating data breaches can be a complex and overwhelming experience. Understanding your legal rights and options is crucial in such situations. While taking immediate steps to protect your data is essential, seeking legal recourse can also be important.

As an Individual Whose Data Was Compromised, What Legal Recourse Do You Have?

Knowing your legal recourse options can provide a sense of empowerment when your data is compromised in a breach. There are a few things you may be able to do in this situation.

Filing a Lawsuit

Data breach suits may be filed individually or as part of a class-action lawsuit. To file a successful lawsuit, you must prove that the breach was caused by negligence or malicious intent on the part of the company responsible for safeguarding your data. This can include showing that they failed to implement or follow adequate data security measures, properly encrypt sensitive information, or notify affected individuals.

Depending on the severity and extent of the breach, you may be entitled to financial compensation for damages such as identity theft protection services, lost wages, and other expenses related to remedying the effects of the breach. An experienced attorney can assess your situation to determine if you have a claim.

Reporting to Government Agencies

In addition to filing a lawsuit, you may report the data breach to government agencies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general are responsible for enforcing data privacy laws and regulations.

By reporting the breach, you can help hold companies accountable for failing to protect consumers and consumer data adequately. Additionally, government agencies may launch investigations into the incident and potentially impose fines or other penalties on the company responsible.

Opting Out of Arbitration Clauses

Companies often have arbitration clauses in their terms, meaning customers must resolve disputes through arbitration instead of in court. These clauses often prevent individuals from participating in class-action lawsuits.

However, some states allow consumers to opt out of these clauses within a certain time frame after agreeing to the contract terms. By opting out, you may retain your right to file a lawsuit against the company in the event of a data breach.

Severity of the Breach

Data breaches can range in their severity. The levels of risk range from minimum with little impact to severe with critical impact.

The Equifax breach is one example of a severe data breach that resulted in a lawsuit. This data breach affected 147 million people. Sensitive information was obtained, including social security numbers, birthdates, names, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers.

Equifax agreed to a settlement of $425 million dollars to help cover the losses incurred by affected parties. This settlement covered costs like:

  • Unauthorized charges on accounts
  • Fees paid to professionals for help with identity theft recovery
  • Other expenses related to recovering from identity theft (e.g., notary, mileage, phone charges, etc.)

Identity Theft

One of the big risks of data breaches is identity theft. Identity monitoring services are often provided for free by the responsible company. A lawyer can help you find out if there’s an existing class action lawsuit against the company.

Government Agencies or Class Action Lawsuits

If the data breach affects a large number of individuals on a widespread scale, it may prompt government agencies to launch investigations or individuals to file class-action lawsuits.

Hiring an attorney for a class action lawsuit can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

Attorneys Who Fight for You in Louisiana

A data breach can have a significant impact on your life. Fortunately, there are legal actions you may be able to take to address the issue.

At Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, we’ve been fighting for the people of Louisiana for over 50 years. We’ll handle your case with patient, kind, and caring support. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.