Guides & articles What Should I Do If My Personal Information Has Been Compromised By a Data Breach?

Peter Hammond Peter is a solicitor who has worked as a professional litigator for many years. More recently Peter has specialised in data breach compensation claims and over the last 2.5 years has gained a wealth of knowledge in this sector. Peter now works with us to share his knowledge and inform the general public.
What Should I Do If My Personal Information Has Been Compromised By a Data Breach?

Although companies are often going above and beyond to protect their data and all stakeholders’ data, cybercriminals are unfortunately working around the clock to come up with new ways to break data security systems and steal valuable information. In other instances data security may be lax or human error can put data at risk.

Organisations and companies are required by law to report cases of a data breach, and will also be liable for any damages, but what can you do if your personal data has been compromised?

As an individual, you need to understand what is the best way to deal with a data breach. How can you secure your information to avoid negative consequences? Are you eligible for compensation? How can you protect your personal data from future breaches? Keep on reading to find out. 

How Does a Data Breach Happen?

A data breach happens when someone gains unauthorised access to information. A cybercriminal or a disgruntled employee might be the culprit. They may remotely or even physically access a company’s computer or network to steal sensitive data that jeopardises others’ well-being, privacy, and safety. 

Although in some cases, data breaches can be done by someone physically accessing the data, perhaps via a laptop that doesn’t belong to them or even stealing a briefcase that contains sensitive information, most incidents of data theft are done remotely. A cybercriminal usually does a lot of work to identify the weakness in the company’s security system. After that, they will start planning and executing their attack.

After the initial contact, the cybercriminal will use all the points of weakness in the infrastructure to attack the company’s security system. This can be done by sending untrustworthy links or malicious attachments that unsuspecting employees might click by mistake. 

They might also steal employees’ credentials and logins by tricking them. Once the cybercriminals have been granted access to one computer, they can attack the whole network and steal all the company’s data. 

Although the technology is improving, hackers are also becoming better at what they do, and they will do their best to find a weak point that they can attack. Some of the biggest data breaches can jeopardise the information of thousands of stakeholders and potentially cost the company millions of pounds. 

What Should I Do If My Personal Information Has Been Compromised By a Data Breach?

You can accidentally become the victim of a data breach, even when cybersecurity systems are always improving. According to the GDPR in the UK and data protection laws, a company is obliged to report the breach to the authorities and to all the affected parties as soon as a data breach occurs. 

If a company has leaked your personal information, you need to know how to act, so you can protect your identity and all your important information. Here is what you need to do in case of a data breach. 

  • Get confirmation. If you’ve heard it on the news or read it somewhere, contact the organisation to confirm the breach. In most cases they will have contacted affected people to inform them of the breach. However, be careful as you might receive an email from the hackers posing as your company, trying to obtain more of your personal information.
  • Identify the type of data leaked. Some types of data breaches are easier to deal with than others. For example, credit cards can be stopped and replaced, and you can also secure your email and change your logins. However, something like a National Insurance Number is related to identity theft and can cause you issues if you’re unaware that your data has been stolen or misused. 
  • Accept what the company offers you. In most cases, the company involved in the breach will offer some kind of help to assist you in retrieving or securing your sensitive data. However, if you feel that the offer is inadequate, you can still seek legal assistance in compensation for your leaked information. 
  • Strengthen your passwords and logins. After a data breach, you should revise your passwords and security questions for any jeopardised accounts. This is extremely important if the company that leaked your data is providing web-related services. 
  • Contact the right people to see how the leaked data affects you. If your credit card information has been leaked, contact your bank and any concerned authorities to check your account and identify unauthorised activities. If your health data was leaked, contact the health authorities and ask the person in charge about the right step to take. 
  • Monitor your accounts for any new activity. After dealing with a data breach, keep an eye on your accounts to monitor any changes. Even after the company has identified the breach, the cybercriminals can still come up with new techniques to overcome new security measures. 

Making a Claim for Data Breach Compensation

Under the data protection law in the UK, in some cases of a data breach, you’re eligible for compensation. You can take your case to court in the following cases. 

  • If you want to enforce your rights under the data protection law. 
  • If you want to claim compensation for any damage caused by the organisation that broke the data protection law. 
  • If your current status is a combination of both cases. 

Do I Have to Go to Court in the Case of a Data Breach?

You have the right to go to court and claim compensation for material and emotional damage resulting from a data breach. However, in some cases, you might not have to go to court, as the responsible company might offer compensation for the distress and material loss that you suffered from because of the breach. 

It is worth bearing in mind that you’ll often get a better settlement if you put your compensation claim in the hands of legal experts. They will have handled hundreds, if not thousands, of these types of claims, so will be best placed to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.

How Much Will the Court Award In Cases of a Data Breach?

This depends on the severity of the breach and the amount of damage you suffered. You need independent legal advice to increase the chances that your case will be successful, and you also will have to provide evidence that you’ve suffered financial loss, distress or both from the data leak. 

How Data Breach Claims Can Help You

A data breach can have an emotional and financial impact. The company responsible for the breach is required by law to report it to the authorities and to all concerned parties. If your data has been breached, you need to take the necessary action to secure your accounts. You also have the right to request compensation for the damage you suffered and that’s where Data Breach Claims can assist you.

We will put you in touch with expert legal advisors who will be able to confirm whether you have been subject to a data breach and have a valid claim for compensation. They will handle the whole process for you to get you the data breach compensation you deserve.

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