Data breach victims. Does your distress matter?

data breach claims

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are preparing to launch group actions against a number of companies who must be held to account for their failure to protect our personal information.

Despite this, some people would have us believe that claiming for distress is an overreaction. That your psychological suffering and anguish doesn’t matter. That, while it is acceptable to claim compensation for any financial losses, you should put up with any anxiety caused by having your information stolen.

Luckily the law doesn’t look at things this way and recognises the amount of damage that can be caused by worry and upset.

Why distress is important

Being the victim of a crime can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. Of course, everyone reacts differently, but for some people, the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect your friends, your family and your job. So being told to just “get over it” isn’t helpful.

According to Victim Support: The effects of crime can also last for a long time, and it doesn’t depend on how ‘serious’ the crime was. Some people cope really well with the most horrific crimes while others can be very distressed by a more minor incident”.

What the law says

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.

Crucially, a recent case has recognised the potential damage that is caused by psychological suffering. So, you can make a compensation claim if you have struggled emotionally following a data breach, even if you have not experienced any financial loss.

A personal data breach is a 21st-century version of being burgled. If a criminal came into your home and stole all your photos or read your diary and private letters you would be distressed. So why should you feel any less upset at having your online memories taken – particularly when it looks like these companies gave the burglar the keys? And why shouldn’t you seek compensation for this failure to look after your information correctly?

Coping after a data breach or cyber crime

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are committed to helping those affected by cybercrime and data breaches. To do this, we regularly work with, and refer our clients to, other organisations and partners. This includes Victim Support.

The leading independent victim’s charity in England and Wales for people affected by crime and traumatic incidents, last year Victim Support offered help to nearly a million victims of crime across the UK.

If you need assistance after a data breach, there are a number of resources on the Victim Support website to help you cope.

Don’t let them get away with it!

The sheer scale of the information we share with organisations and on social media is enough to leave victims open to the threat of fraud. And we should all be very worried about what could happen if this gets into the wrong hands. For example, with enough information, cybercriminals can steal your identity, apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.

Something has to be done to make companies accountable for these losses and claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests, it could be the only way to ensure that businesses everywhere implement more secure processes.

How to make a compensation claim 

You can claim on your own, but, at Hayes Connor, we believe that the best way to make big companies pay for their failures is to use an expert lawyer. As such, we are preparing to launch a number of no-win, no-fee group action cases. These group actions allow people who have been affected to work together to strengthen their overall position and increase their chances of success.


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