Who is at fault in cybercrime cases?
Cybercrime is difficult to avoid. Often because an organisation has not put the necessary prevention methods in place to keep your data safe.
To make matters worse, many companies are falling short of what we would expect when a failure in data privacy occurs. In our experience, companies are still responding with a pre-packaged “we won’t do it again” approach. This fails to recognise the full impact of the breach, which can be significant and of a psychological nature.
In some cases, these cybercrime and hacks are massive news stories. But, every day, we help people come to terms with smaller cybercrimes. And these cases have a severe and often lasting impact on them.
In such cases, claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests. It is often the only way organisations will be persuaded to take their responsibilities seriously and make the necessary improvements.
The law can protect you against cybercrime
With more and more organisations using computers to store and process personal information, concerns about online crime and the misuse of data are on the rise. However, legislation does exist to protect you online.
The Malicious Communications Act.
Makes it an offence to send a communication with the intention of causing distress or anxiety.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
Gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work the right to control how their material is used.
The Computer Misuse Act.
Discourages people from using computers for illegal purposes. It covers unauthorised access (hacking), accessing material with the intention to commit illegal activity (e.g. fraud, blackmail, etc.) and making changes to data stored on a computer without permission (e.g. installing malware or viruses).
The Data Protection Act.
The UK’s interpretation of the GDPR, this establishes how your personal information can be used; and how it can’t. If you have suffered damage or distress caused by an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act, you have a right to claim compensation.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Introduced to expand existing data protection legislation, the GDPR further protects people online. For businesses, breaches can lead to fines of up to £17m, or 4% of global turnover.
At Hayes Connor Solicitors we understand that making a cybercrime compensation claim can be stressful. As such, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide to help explain the process.
The background to making a cybercrime claim
Reporting a cybercrime
If you have been the victim of online fraud or identity theft, contact Action Fraud to report this. You can do this online or via telephone. Action Fraud is the national fraud reporting service and is the starting point for any police investigation into your loss.
For any other form of cybercrime such as online stalking, harassment, or fears about sexual grooming, you should contact the police directly.
The impact of cybercrime
The effects of online crime can be severe, with many victims suffering from lasting financial harm as well as psychological damage and distress. As such, if someone is convicted of a cybercrime against you, the court may order them to pay you compensation. You can be compensated for a range of things, such as personal injury, losses or damage, being off work, medical expenses, travel expenses, and pain and suffering.
At Hayes Connor Solicitors we make sure you receive the maximum compensation for any cybercrimes committed against you. We also deal with hundreds of different types of cybercrime cases. And one thing that has become apparent to our solicitors is that the full impact is often unclear until months after the initial violation.
We have seen cases where the financial losses only start to occur three to six months later. With stolen data batched and used over time. According to one report, the stolen personal data of UK citizens is selling for as little as £10 on the dark web. The data offered provides more than enough information for hackers to commit cybercrimes.
Getting compensation from cybercriminals
If you want the court to consider awarding you compensation, you need to tell the police. You also need to give them details about any damage or distress you have suffered. The police will pass this information to the Crown Prosecution Service. It will then make the request for compensation in court.
A wide range of factors will determine how successful you are likely to be when pursuing compensation this way. In criminal proceedings, it can be difficult to persuade the prosecutor to seek a compensation order (following a conviction).
Where the authorities are not interested, or where you do not want to make a criminal case, we can assist with a private prosecution.
Making a private prosecution
With this approach, your case goes before a judge in a civil trial to seek recovery of any losses and the payment of compensation.
Often these cases are settled out of court. Proceedings can be started quickly, without the uncertainty associated with whether the prosecutor will investigate the case. However, you do not have to choose between the criminal and civil justice systems. In most instances, the proceedings can happen at the same time (unless in doing so the defendant faces the risk of serious prejudice which may lead to injustice). A civil claim can also follow a criminal case (and vice versa).
If you do decide to make a claim, in most cases, you will have to pay your own solicitor’s costs, so it is often not worth appointing a solicitor to deal with a small claim. The Citizens Advice Bureau does provide trained advisors to help people with small claims, or you can use our online assessment form to start the claims process.
If we believe you have a case, we may agree to take your case on a NO WIN NO FEE agreement. This means that your legal costs will be deducted from the compensation you receive. If your claim is not successful you don’t pay a penny. Our expert, friendly team can provide guidance on the best possible route for you.
If you have already contacted the police about a cybercrime, Hayes Connor Solicitors can still investigate your claim.
How to make a cybercrime compensation claim
1. Inform the ICO
If the cybercrime was made possible because of poor security practices at an organisation that had access to your data, you should inform the ICO.
The ICO is the UK independent authority charged with upholding information rights in the public interest and promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. The ICO has the power to impose hefty fines on organisations who fail to meet the requirements of the GDPR/Data Protection Act. Any organisation can be held accountable for a data breach (regardless of whether it was caused by cybercriminals or human error).
While the ICO does not award compensation, you have the right to ask the ICO to assess an organisation if you think it is guilty of a breach. You can then use this information to support a cybercrime compensation claim.
You can make a compensation claim without first going to the ICO. But we usually recommend this as a first step.
2. Contact Hayes Connor Solicitors
After you have reported the cybercrime to the relevant authorities, you might decide to make a cybercrime compensation claim. If so, contact Hayes Connor Solicitors ASAP. We’ll advise you on whether you have a valid claim, answer any questions you might have and go through your options with you. It goes without saying that our process is fully compliant with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and we never put your details at risk.
In cases where a data breach has occurred, we’ll contact the offending organisation and use any information provided by the ICO to check if you have had your data breached (if the company has not admitted as much already). Once we have established that your data has been breached – and the extent of this failing – we’ll start the claims procedure on your behalf. We’ll only do this with your explicit agreement
Once we have your permission, we’ll investigate your case, gather together the relevant paperwork and evidence, and make sure all the necessary court forms are filled in on time.
3. We will try to reach a settlement
Before taking your claim to court, the judge will want to know what steps you have taken to settle the claim. So, we’ll write to the offending person or company offering a settlement. The minimum amount of damages sought will depend on the nature of the injustice and the impact this had on you. If the claim includes substantial losses or harm, or the leak of personal, medical, financial or sensitive business information, the level of settlement required would increase. At Hayes Connor Solicitors we seek the maximum compensation possible on your behalf.
If the other party does not agree to our terms, and we fail to reach an agreement, we will write to them to tell them that we intend to take the matter to court. In many cases, including data breach cases where the company has already been fined by the ICO, these claims are taken seriously. Likewise, the costs of contesting a claim often far exceed the costs of settlement, so there is usually a willingness to pay a reduced amount rather than face larger costs and bad publicity.
4. Going to Court
If your case does go to court, you will need evidence to back up your claim, and we will work on establishing this for you. If the ICO/Police believe that the offending person or organisation broke the law, we will use this information as part of our evidence (however, the judge may not agree with their view). Where the company/individual has already admitted to a crime, or to breaching private data, or has already been found culpable, the chances of success are very strong.
How much compensation will you win?
There are no guidelines about how much compensation you can be awarded for a claim under the Data Protection Act. In cybercrime cases, the value of damages will depend on the sensitivity of the data. For example, someone whose medical records were stolen could be entitled to £6,000.
If you do go to court, it is up to the judge to consider all the circumstances, including the seriousness of the breach and the impact on you.
Start your cybercrime claim today
At Hayes Connor Solicitors we help you to claim compensation and steer you through the aftermath of a cybercrime, helping to minimise the impact on you as much as possible.
With decades of combined experience across our team, we can help you claim for your emotional distress, loss of privacy and any financial losses.
We understand that making a compensation claim can be stressful, especially while you are dealing with the emotional impact of being a victim of crime. That’s why we make sure you always know what’s happening with your case and remove the jargon from the process to keep things as simple and stress-free as possible.
See what our clients say about working with us
Where we believe you have a case for claiming cybercrime compensation, we may be able to act for you on a no win, no fee basis, removing any financial risk from the process of making a claim.
Think you are entitled to cybercrime compensation? Use our simple and secure online claim form to share the details of your situation and we will get back to you shortly to let you know whether we can help.
With strict time limits in place for making cybercrime claims it’s important to act now to make sure you don’t miss out on your right to claim.