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Hackernoon logoAttorney Adam Williams Gives Advice on Data Breaches and Class-Action Suits by@marina-gaf

Attorney Adam Williams Gives Advice on Data Breaches and Class-Action Suits

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@marina-gafMarina Gaf

Technology is changing incredibly quickly, and as a consumer, it can often be difficult to stay on the front lines of keeping yourself secure while using all of the technological marvels that the world has to offer. Data breaches and privacy breaches are reported every day in the news, making the private information of thousands vulnerable to identity theft and the consequences that come with it.

Today, we’ve contacted top personal injury attorney, Adam Williams, to talk about how you can protect your information as well as to get compensation for issues related to privacy breaches. While navigating identity theft due to data breaches can be a tough battle, he has some advice on class-action lawsuits and receiving compensation for your losses that may serve you well. 

What do you think of data breaches in the news? Does it seem like a trend to you? 

Obviously, cybersecurity is becoming more and more important with each year that goes by. With so much important information stored on the web and many of it not stored securely, of course we are going to see a rise in data breaches. We have already. I would say it’s a definite trend. Consumers need to keep an eye on their security online, in order to protect themselves from financial damages or other issues related to identity theft. 

Why should consumers be worried about data breaches?

Well, the most glaring reason for consumers to pay attention to data breaches is because it may directly affect their own financial situations. People may not be aware of the full ramifications of identity theft, especially if they’ve dealt with it before and it hasn’t made a huge impact on their finances. It’s easy to sweep it under the rug and procrastinate on taking care of things like freezing your credit and ensuring that your finances will not be impacted by this issue.

However, there is even more danger in delaying action. Your credit score is one area that may be impacted heavily if you wait to look into legal action—and no one wants to lower their credit score unwittingly. If you are looking to purchase a house in the near future, decimating your credit score may not be a good move for you.

The best bet is to do your research after you’ve fallen victim to a data breach. If there is a class-action suit being organized, you may be eligible to collect damages against the company who released your information without authorization. 

What exactly is a data breach? How can you obtain justice after dealing with one?

A data breach can be thought of as any time that hackers or nefarious individuals break down a company’s cybersecurity measures and steal consumer information. This can include just about anything,  but sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers and credit card information is often the most damaging when it is released. The reason that hackers and cybercriminals do this is to sell these identities on the Dark Web, where they are then used to steal the identity of the individuals. 

Oftentimes, data breaches will affect far more than just a few people--typically thousands to even millions of people’s private information (in the case of Equifax at least) is released to criminals. When this happens, one single personal injury lawsuit won’t really cut it due to the large nature of the crimes. In those cases, a class-action suit is often organized in order to compensate the victims of these cybercrimes. 

What steps should someone take after they’ve been the victim of identity theft due to a data breach?

Panicking will not help the situation, but like I said before, neither will delaying action. Freezing your credit is a good first step, as well as ensuring that your online banking information does not show any fraudulent transactions or unauthorized withdrawals. After freezing your credit, contact each of your affected accounts and let them know that there has been fraudulent activity on your credit, and that you are now taking security measures.

As time goes on, you may also want to look into class-action lawsuits against the company who released your private information. Chances are, it a number of people have been affected

Do you have any tips for consumers looking to enhance their cybersecurity or just better protect their private information?

One of the easiest ways you can help to protect your information online is to use a virtual credit card service. At its basic level, a virtual credit card is a service that creates a new “virtual credit card” for each and every transaction you make, ensuring that your true credit card number is encrypted and will not be exposed to hackers looking to take advantage of security backdoors. These virtual cards act as a proxy, allowing your real credit card information to remain protected.

Another simple action that every consumer can take is checking their credit report twice a year to ensure that there are no unknown debts or fraudulent charges accruing in collections. If you happen to find one on your credit report, dispute the charge as soon as possible. 

Otherwise, it’s important to stay informed about recent privacy and data breaches that have happened. The Equifax data breach was hard to miss in the news a few years back, but if you’re not someone who keeps up with financial news, it can be easy to miss this type of information. Staying informed is your best defense. 

What can someone expect from a class-action suit after a data breach?

Becoming involved in a class-action suit is typically a very easy process; it’s as simple as filling out a form agreeing to take part in the suit. In a class action case, only one person is chosen to represent the collective group agreeing to take action against the company responsible for the data breach. If you’ve been affected, you may receive a letter in the mail asking you to take part in the suit. 

Once a settlement or a conclusion is reached in the case, the defendants of the suit will receive compensation from a pool of money received in the case. While this process is long and onerous, it’s not something that most consumers will ever be involved in--usually they’ll just get a check in the mail for their damages sometime after the settlement or trial’s end.

How long does it typically take to receive damages after a class-action suit? 

Each case is different, so it’s hard to give a time estimate on receiving compensation. Depending upon a number of factors, damages from suits like these can take years to ever come about, but the advantage is that none of the recipients need to deal with the hassle of court. 

Many people believe that settling will be a shorter process than a lengthy trial, but even settlement negotiations can take months and must be approved by a number of parties before it can be truly finished. I wouldn’t wait around for damages if you have debts or bills to pay, as class actions can take a long time to come to a conclusion. Work on your finances in the meantime, so that when your check does come in the mail, it will be a nice surprise instead of something to depend upon.

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