Posts

social housing data breach
,

Customer services officer guilty of unlawfully accessing private information in social housing data breach

Social housing providers deal with a lot of sensitive and personal information. So it is vital that there are robust protections in place to keep this data secure. However, in a recent social housing data breach case, a former customer services officer at Stockport Homes Limited (SHL) has been found guilty of unlawfully accessing personal data without a legitimate reason to do so.

What happened in this social housing data breach?

In this case, a customer services officer spent time looking at anti-social behaviour cases on her employer’s case management system. Despite the fact that she didn’t have the authorisation to do so. In total, she accessed the system almost 70 times.

When an audit revealed her offences (after concerns were raised regarding her performance), she was suspended from her role. She then subsequently resigned.

The former customer services officer pled guilty to unlawfully accessing personal data. She was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £364.08 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

What has the ICO said about the data protection breach?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s data protection regulator. A spokesperson for the ICO said:

“People have the absolute right to expect that their personal information will be treated with the utmost privacy and in strict accordance with the UK’s data protection laws.

“Our prosecution of this individual should act as a clear warning that we will pursue and take action against those who choose to abuse their position of trust”.

Read all the details about this ICO case here.

Lessons learned

This social housing data breach case should remind people that they could face fines if they access or share personal data without a valid reason.

Also, all organisations need to do more to protect personal data. This includes ensuring comprehensive data protection training is in place. And making sure employees understand the consequences of breaking the law.

Organisations should have adequate and robust protections to ensure that such information is only available to people who need it. There should also be a record of such access.

Not Just Hackers

At Hayes Connor, our expert solicitors deal with a significant number of data breach cases each and every day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and understand how social housing data breaches can affect people in different ways.

Helping to reduce the number of data violations taking place across the UK, we are sharing such real-life examples of data protection breaches to raise awareness of this issue and educate people to prevent similar instances from happening.

You can find out more about our work here.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow the Hayes Connor #NotJustHackers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a social housing data breach, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or contact us to discuss your case in more depth.

 

data breach compensation
,

What do you need to know about data protection claims?

Businesses and public sector organisations use a significant amount of sensitive information about their customers and the people they help. And, they need this personal data to carry out their duties. And to provide a quality service. But, while almost nobody objects to this information being used, they have a duty to use and store it responsibly. And, where this doesn’t happen, you could have a data breach compensation claim.

All kinds of organisations use personal information. For example:

  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Banks and other financial bodies
  • Government departments
  • Local Authorities
  • The NHS
  • The Police
  • Schools
  • Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS).

What personal information do companies need?

This will depend entirely on why your data is being used. It could include your:

  • Name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Bank and credit card details
  • Ethnicity, religious beliefs, political opinions and gender identity
  • Medical history
  • Employment and education history
  • Criminal record.

Why is data breach compensation necessary?

A data breach can result in both financial and/or identity theft. But the impact of data breaches goes much further than financial losses. Many victims also go on to suffer from stress, anxiety and distress.

If an organisation does not meet its data protection responsibilities, and you suffer financially or emotionally because of this, you may be able to make a data protection compensation claim. This is an important right. Not least because serious damage can be caused if your personal information gets into the public domain.

Your information must be correct

Under the latest data protection legislation, organisations have to do more than just keep your data safe. They also have to ensure that it is up-to-date and correct. This is because there can be serious consequences if incorrect data is stored about you.

For example, a police “gangs” database was found to be in breach of data protection laws after it was revealed that many of the people on the list had never been in a gang. These people also had “zero” risk of causing harm. The data was also inappropriately shared with other public bodies. This included local councils, housing associations, and education authorities. And, as a result, many people faced sanctions relating to housing, jobs and other public services.

Likewise, if your medical records are wrong, this could prevent medical conditions being diagnosed correctly and essential treatment from taking place.

You can claim for damage and distress

Data breaches can and do cause serious and lasting damage. To claim compensation, you must be able to prove that you suffered as a result of the breach. This includes financial and medical harm as well as anguish and anxiety.

  • Financial losses. With enough information, cybercriminals can use your bank and credit cards, apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.
  • Emotional distress. Even if you haven’t lost out financially after a data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is no harm done. A data breach can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. 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.

What are the main data protection rules?

The Data Protection Act (the UK’s interpretation of the GDPR) sets out rules to protect you and your personal data. Under these rules, organisations must not:

  • Store inaccurate or out-of-date information about you
  • Hold your data for longer than necessary
  • Make your confidential data public
  • Tell you why they need your data
  • Use your data outside its stated purpose.

If an organisation breaches any of these rules your rights are infringed, and you may be entitled to data breach compensation.

Types of data breach claims

A data breach can occur in any industry, business, school, organisation, or government department (e.g. the police, the NHS and the social services). Common types of data protection compensation claims include where:

  • Data has been inadvertently lost, hacked or leaked
  • Your identity has been stolen to obtain credit cards fraudulently
  • Personal data has been sent to a third party without your express permission
  • An organisation failed to maintain up-to-date, accurate information about you and this caused you damage
  • Your privacy has been compromised as part of a whistle-blowing operation
  • Personal information has been misused or mishandled
  • An organisation broke the law and used your information for journalism, artistic or literary purposes without your permission.

Corporate data breach claims also happen where businesses have had their company data leaked (e.g. banking information, business plans, etc.).

Making a data breach compensation claim

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help our clients get the compensation they deserve following data protection breaches, cybercrime, and other online offences. Our experts deal with a significant volume of data breach cases each day, and, during our work, we see how data breaches can affect people in different ways.

There are two main ways we get compensation for our clients:

Individual cases

In most cases, data breaches aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack big businesses, but by simple human errors. And while these incidents don’t make the headlines, for those involved the experience can be just as devastating.

Group actions

In many cases, where a breach occurs, you won’t be the only person making a claim. In such circumstances, it is often worth joining a group action claim. Where cases are very similar, group actions can be a powerful tool and can have a bigger impact than a single claim.

What is the ICO?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent authority, set up to uphold information rights in the public interest. It also promotes openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. While the ICO does not award compensation, it does have the power to impose hefty fines on organisations in breach of their duties.

You have the right to ask the ICO to assess if an organisation breached the Data Protection Act.

Helping our clients get the data breach compensation they deserve

Every day serious data breaches take place. And, all too often these breaches put people’s mental health and even their lives at risk.

Our data protection solicitors provide high-quality, sensitive legal advice and support to help victims of data breaches and cybercrime to claim compensation. We may be able to act for you on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis.

Find out more about making a data breach claim with Hayes Connor Solicitors.

 

data breach compensation
,

Help is as important as data breach compensation

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we can help you to make a data breach compensation claim after your personal information was put at risk by an organisation you trusted to look after it.

But more than this, we also want to make sure that you understand your data protection rights. And provide the information you need to protect yourself following a data breach. So, as well as claiming data breach compensation, what else can you do to get data breach help?

Have you been a victim of a data breach?

In our digital age, your personal data is of enormous value. Not just to yourself, but also businesses, and, unfortunately, cyber-criminals. As such, data breaches are now a common occurrence as negligent corporations fail to put the necessary security measures in place to protect user accounts, passwords, contact details and sensitive and financial information.

Last year, data breaches affected billions of people. And, in the UK, many group action claims have been launched. For example, we have initiated data breach compensation actions against the likes of British Airways, Equifax and Dixons Carphone Warehouse.

So, if you’ve suffered damage or distress as a result of an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), then you have a right to compensation.

Find out more about making a data breach compensation claim.

Why you need data breach help

A data breach can result in both financial and/or identity theft. And the result of either of these can be devastating. With enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts. And, to make matters worse, with criminals rarely caught, getting your money back following a scam is not easy.

What to do if you are worried about the security of your money and personal information:

  • Contact your bank/credit card provider immediately
  • Consider a credit freeze until the matter is resolved
  • Report the scam to the police and contact Action Fraud for advice on what to do next
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise
  • Let the credit reference agencies know of any activity that was not down to you
  • Register with the Cifas protective registration service. This will slow down credit applications made in your name with additional verification checks made to ascertain that the applicant is actually you.

You don’t need to have lost money to get data breach compensation

Even if you haven’t lost out financially after a data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is no harm done. Following the Ticketmaster data breach, over 30% of our clients suffered from distress and/or psychological trauma as a result of having their card details stolen and used in fraudulent activity.

Being the victim of a data breach can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. The effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect your friends, your family and your job.

Thankfully, over the last few years, people are waking up to the reality of mental health. And there is a greater awareness about the lasting effects of physiological suffering and anguish. Crucially, the law agrees and recognises the amount of damage that can be caused by having your information breached.

Data breach compensation case studies

As well as data breaches caused by cybercriminals, every day, people are also suffering following smaller data breaches. These privacy violations can have a severe and often lasting impact on them. In most cases, these data breaches are caused by simple human errors. And while these incidents don’t make the headlines, for those involved the experience can be just as devastating.

Check out our data breach case studies for more information on these kinds of breaches.

If you have been affected by a data breach, regardless of whether a hacker or a stupid mistake caused it, you can make a data breach compensation claim.

Where to get data breach help

Committed to reducing the amount of data privacy violations, and supporting victims wherever we can, we have collated a list of websites you can turn to for data breach help, advice and support – before, during and after a data breach. Find out more about getting data breach help here.

Or you can contact Victim Support for more information.

Got a question or need some data breach help or advice?

If you have suffered from a personal data breach, let us know to see how we can help.

CONTACT US

data breach solicitors
,

How to choose data breach lawyers in the UK

When it became clear that people across the UK were mis-sold PPI, often to the tune of thousands of pounds, there was a surge of new claims management companies on the scene. These lawyers promised to help consumers get back what they were due. But, in many cases, assurances of no up-front fees turned into extortionate commission rates. And that left people short-changed. Today, with the deadline for consumers to complain about the sale of PPI products coming to an end, many unscrupulous claims management firms will undoubtedly switch from PPI to GDPR. But, that doesn’t mean that victims of data breaches shouldn’t claim compensation. What matters is that they get the professional legal representation they deserve. So, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cybercrime, what should you look out for when choosing UK data breach lawyers?

Are they data breach experts?

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we believe that the best way to make big companies pay for their failures is to use a specialist lawyer. Of course, you would expect us to say that – but let us explain why.

We have become a true specialist in data breach law. This is all we do. And, because of this, we have the legal expertise needed to take on big players such as Ticketmaster and Equifax. And, where enough people come forward, we might even launch a group action against a company. We believe that a group action is the best way forward for data breach claims. It allows people with the same type of claim to bring it together on a collective basis. This strengthens their overall position and increases their chances of success.

In addition to our own legal expertise, we also work with expert barristers to help us win our cases. So we are confident that our team of UK data breach lawyers will get the results you deserve.

Crucially, when it comes to making a compensation claim, a lack of care can leave data breach victims open to advice and representation below the standard expected by the profession. And this could ultimately see you lose out financially as a result.

Are they pushy?

We get angry when we hear about people being pressured into making a data breach compensation claim. The decision should always be 100% yours. And, you should always feel in control of the situation. So, if someone you have never heard of starts calling you up to tell you they can help with your data breach, then you are right to be annoyed.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we only ever get in touch with people who have asked us to. This means we never cold call, send spam texts, spam emails, or engage in any other form of nuisance marketing. We never pressure anyone into making a claim.

Are they registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority?

Before appointing UK data breach lawyers, you should check that they are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Firms regulated by the SRA meet the high standards set by the regulator. It also means that you are appropriately protected should anything go wrong.

SRA regulated firms are also required to display their SRA ID on their letterhead, email and website. Hayes Connor Solicitors is a trading name of FD Law Ltd. FD Law Ltd is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA number 632067.

How long have they been doing this for?

Data breach and cybercrime breaches are a relatively new and evolving area of law, so it’s difficult to find specialists in this area. But, over the past 18 months, our firm has established itself as the only niche provider of legal services in this area. As such, we lead our field when it comes to understanding the complexities involved.

But before that, we worked on different types of compensation claims. And, with over 50 years’ experience helping our clients secure the justice they deserve, our UK data breach lawyers work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for you. Both in terms of damages achieved and service delivered.

Will they provide a free consultation?

The best data breach lawyers in the UK will provide you with a free consultation to make sure they can help you before asking for any money.

If you want to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim with Hayes Connor, we’ll advise you on whether you have a valid claim, answer any questions you might have and go through your options with you without charging you a penny.

But more than this, as well as providing a free initial assessment of your case, we have also created a wealth of free advice, news and other resources to raise awareness of the importance of data protection. We encourage individuals and organisations across the UK to use this information to help keep everyone safe.

What type of cases can they help you with?

Before you make a data breach compensation claim, you should check to see whether the solicitor has any experience winning similar cases.

At Hayes Connor, our experts deal with a significant volume of data breach cases each day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and how data breaches can affect people in different ways. There are two main ways we get compensation for our clients:

What will they help you to claim for?

All too often, claims management companies are more concerned about making fast cash than helping victims. So, while they might help you get some money back for a data breach, they are less concerned about ensuring you are fully compensated for the long-term and often physiological effects of a breach.

When you appoint us, we make sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Typically, we would look to claim for:

  • Any money lost (e.g. if a cybercriminal used your bank card)
  • Stress, worry, and anxiety
  • Any recognised psychological injury
  • The effect that the leak has had on your social and home life
  • Any loss of earnings as a direct result of the breach (e.g. if you need time off work or lose your job)
  • The loss of future earnings (e.g. if you have to drop out of university)
  • Any expenses that you have had to pay as a result of the data breach (e.g. private medical care, travel expenses, accommodation, etc.).

Because we understand that the full impact of a data breach is often not felt until months after the initial violation, we take a long-term view when it comes to claiming compensation on your behalf.

But more than this, because we want to help you get your life back on track ASAP, we also provide a wide range of information to help our clients protect themselves once a breach has occurred. And we work with Victim Support to help those affected by cybercrime and data breaches.

Do they offer no-win, no-fee?

Access to professional legal advice is a fundamental right. That’s why it is vital that everyone can afford to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim should they need to.

Removing the financial risk, at Hayes Connor Solicitors, we provide our services on a no-win, no-fee basis to help our clients get the compensation they deserve. So, if we don’t win, you don’t have to pay us a penny.

How much will they charge you if you win?

If your claim is successful, you usually have to contribute towards your solicitor’s costs.

This ‘success fee’ is taken from the compensation awarded to you, and in some cases, it can be much higher than you expected.

The amount of the success fee depends on when your case is settled, but with Hayes Connor Solicitors, you never have to pay more than 25% of your compensation. We have to charge this to cover our costs in smaller/individual cases. There are no hidden charges or other administration fees.

What’s more, if enough people come forward to make a large group action claim, we might be able to waive this fee (by getting the other party to pay it instead of you). So, in some large group actions, there are no solicitor’s fees win or lose and you could receive 100% of the compensation awarded to you.

We always make sure you are fully informed about any potential costs before we proceed.

Choosing a UK data breach lawyer? Choose Hayes Connor!

With data breach claims rarely out of the news, it is likely that high-profile data breaches could be seen as a way to make a profit by unscrupulous claims management “factories” and “ambulance chasers”.  So it’s vital that you are aware of what is at stake and the options available to you.

Our process is also fully compliant with ICO guidance and we never put your details at risk.

 FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MAKING A DATA BREACH CLAIM WITH HAYES CONNOR SOLICITORS

british airways breach
, ,

Don’t leave it too late to join the British Airways data breach

This week, the ICO said that it is considering fining British Airways a staggering £183 million for its part in one of the most severe cyber-attacks in UK history. This is because, while cybercriminals hacked the airline, the British Airways data breach was only possible due to inadequate security arrangements.

As a result of the data hack, almost 400,000 British Airways customers had their personal details and bank cards stolen. Enough details were exposed to make the threat of cybercrime a real possibility. Many banks had to cancel and re-issue cards as a result of the breach.

Don’t leave it too late to join our No Win, No Fee, BA data breach compensation case

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are taking a group action against British Airways to help victims of this data breach to claim compensation. We can help you claim compensation for financial losses, as well as for inconvenience and distress.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve!

Since the data breach, we have been contacted by hundreds of people who were put at risk by BA. And, if you have been in touch about joining this case, it’s vital that you now complete and return the information we have sent to you (links included in our initial documentation).

If you have misplaced this information, or if you require copies, please do not hesitate to email us at enquiries@hayesconnor.co.uk

What if you haven’t previously contacted Hayes Connor Solicitors about the BA data breach?

The action that we are taking against BA is still open to you to join. But, as we have already started our group action case, it is vital that you register with us ASAP.

What is a group action case?

A group action claim is where a group of people – sometimes even thousands of people – have been affected by the same issue. Group action cases are also known as class actions or multi-party actions.

With a group action claim, this group of people (the Claimants) collectively bring their cases to court against a Defendant. In this case, British Airways. These victims then fight together to achieve compensation in the High Court of Justice.

Where cases are very similar, group actions can be a powerful tool and can have a bigger impact than a single claim.

What does the ICO fine mean for this case?

Investigating why the British Airways data breach was able to happen, the ICO found that information was able to be compromised by inadequate security arrangements at BA. This means that BA will be held responsible for its failure to protect customer data. But, while the ICO has the power to impose data breach fines, it does not give this money to victims of the data breach.

However, we can use the evidence uncovered by the ICO to make a very strong case. So, if your data was put at risk by BA, you should now make a data breach compensation claim.

To join our British Airways data breach group action compensation claim, register with us today.

REGISTER NOW

 

information unattended
,

Don’t leave personal data unattended

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches. In response, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced a handy toolkit to help businesses communicate the importance of information security to staff. At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we’re sharing some of the tips included in this toolkit. In doing this we aim to raise awareness of the importance of this issue. And help organisations across the UK improve their data protection processes. This is crucial to keeping the personal data they use safe.

Tip: All information you work with has value. Think before leaving it unattended

 

The risk of leaving personal data unattended

Confidential information can be compromised even when it is kept in offices. For example, printouts in output trays can be viewed, mishandled, or stolen. Unattended computers also pose a significant a threat. Because, if someone else sits at your desk, they could access data that they are not authorised to see.

For example, in a recent case, we saw the impact of what can happen when a woman’s sister-in-law (an NHS worker) accessed the NHS system and shared personal details about our client with the rest of her family.

The importance of a Clear Desk & Screen policy

Employers must understand the importance of data protection. Strict policies and procedures also help to process information safely. This includes establishing a ‘Clear Desk and Screen’ policy. This policy should cover things like:

  • Locking paper records containing confidential, personal or sensitive data at the end of each day. Or a workstation if it will be unattended for more than a short time
  • Making sure that you shut down your computer at the end of the working day
  • Locking laptops and other portable devices in a secure location at the end of each day
  • Locking your screen when you leave your computer unattended
  • Automatic screensavers after 10 minutes of inactivity
  • Shredding hardcopy documents containing personal data
  • Not disposing of paper records containing personal data in general waste or recycling bins
  • Not writing down passwords or other restricted account information
  • Locking away removable media when not in use. Or prohibiting the use of removable media
  • Removing documents containing personal data immediately from printers
  • Keeping the keys to locked filing cabinets or drawers in a secure location
  • Not leaving confidential information on desks, in shared conference facilities or meeting rooms
  • Removing all personal information from flipcharts and wiping down whiteboards
  • Securing office areas when not in use
  • Adhering to mobile device guidance when out of the office
  • Deleting any data from the recycle bin of any communal computers that you use

Other quick tips to keep personal data safe

  • When staff abide by the data protection principles of their businesses, data breaches can be avoided. But it is up to employers to make sure that all staff receive regular data protection training. This is vital to make sure they understand the potential consequences of breaching data protection laws
  • Organisations must do more to protect personal information. For example, by designing systems that only allow the relevant people to have access
  • Every staff member accessing personal records should provide a reason for doing so.

Not just hackers

Data breaches are not just caused by cybercriminals. For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow our #NotJustHackers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses.  Or give us a call to discuss your case in more depth.

acceptable use policy
,

Do you know your acceptable use policy?

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches. In response, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced a handy toolkit to help employees understand the importance of information security.

By sharing some of the tips included in this, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of this issue. And help organisations across the UK improve their data protection processes.

Tip: Is this acceptable use? Make sure you’ve read your internal policy

 

What is an acceptable use policy?

Recently, there have been changes to the rules covering the use of technology. So, it’s more important than ever that employees understand their data protection responsibilities.

An acceptable use policy (AUP) helps to make sure that everyone knows what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to using digital technology. As such, an AUP should cover things like:

  • Use of email and web for personal purposes
  • The types of sites that are forbidden
  • Use of video/audio streaming
  • Restrictions on downloading files
  • Policies for sending bulk emails. For example, making sure staff use the bcc function, so email addresses are not disclosed
  • Guidance on logging off or locking devices when not in use
  • Guidance on physically storing mobile devices to minimise loss by theft.

The AUP should also set out the process and potential consequences for any infringements.

Quick tips

  • Employers must understand the importance of data protection
  • Employers should make sure that an AUP is in place to ensure the safe processing of information. Both in and out of the office
  • In many cases, data breaches can be avoided by staff abiding by the AUP. But it is up to employers to make sure that all staff receive regular data protection training, This will make sure they understand the potential consequences of breaching data protection laws
  • An AUP should be updated regularly to make sure it complies with advancements in data protection legislation
  • Robust reporting measures and processes should be established to respond to any breaches of the AUP.

Not just hackers

Cybercriminals are not the only cause of data breaches. For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow our #NotJustHackers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses. Or give us a call to discuss your case in more depth.

 

Information Breached
,

Pensioners’ confidential information breached after printing error at Waltham Forest Council

Human error is the leading cause of privacy violations. And, a mistake at Waltham Forest Council has resulted in thousands of pensioners having their confidential information breached.

This grievous error happened when a “printing error” produced P60 forms which included the confidential information of two different people. Worryingly, this mistake wasn’t spotted. So, pensioners received their P60 forms with their own, correct information on the front, and a stranger’s details on the back.

The confidential information breached included their national insurance details, addresses and other private information.

In total, over 3,000 incorrect statements were issued.

Why was this confidential information breached?

The mistake was flagged on Facebook by James O’Rourke. His mother-in-law received a double-sided P60. He said:  “It appears Waltham Forest Council has yet again been frivolous with its residents’ data.

“My mother-in-law, a former council employee, received her pension P60 this week. To her horror it had been printed upon on both sides, the reverse side being another person’s P60.

“A few days later she received another P60 with an attached letter. No reassurance as to whether her data has not been so sloppily dealt with.

“This is not the first time the council has breached the Data Protection Act this year, so the Information Commissioner’s Office must take immediate action and the ultimate person responsible taken to task.”

Waltham Forest Council admits the breach

In a letter, Waltham Forest Council admitted the breach. The council stated: “Due to an error with our printing partners a small number of these were printed with information on the reverse relating to another customer. We sincerely apologise for this error.

“Please destroy the P60 you were sent originally immediately and securely, using a home shredder if possible.

“You can also send this to the council if you would like us to destroy this for you.

“I can assure you we are taking steps to prevent any future occurrences of this type of error in the future.”

A council spokesperson has also said that: “We take protecting people’s data very seriously and are very sorry for any concern caused.”

What can you do if you have had your confidential information breached?

Waltham Forest Council has investigated the issue, and it has implemented new sign off procedures to prevent this from happening again. It has also sent an apology letter to everyone affected.

But this falls far short of what we would expect.

In far too many cases, when a breach occurs the accepted risk management plan seems to be to apologise and promise it won’t happen again. But such a noticeable absence of care over the very real impact of a data breach should not be tolerated or accepted.

What’s more, the council has also said that there is no risk of fraud because of the data breach. But there is simply no way they can know this. Every day we see what happens when the personal information of people across the UK falls into the wrong hands. And, even where cybercriminals are not initially involved, the consequences can be damaging and long-lasting.

Not just hackers

Data breaches are not just caused by cybercriminals. For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow our #notjusthackers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses. You can make a compensation claim if you have struggled emotionally following a data breach, even if you have not experienced any financial loss.

To find out more, give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.

 

staying safe online
,

An essential guide to staying safe online

Today, most of use the internet to help make our day-to-day lives better. But despite its benefits, the more information we put online, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. In response, TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has created a handy guide about staying safe online.

The guide has the support of www.getsafeonline.org, the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. It contains lots of helpful guidance to protect you and your data from the threat of fraud, identity theft and abuse.

As well as encouraging you to share the booklet with your friends and family, TITAN also suggests that it can be used as a memory-jogger whenever you need a quick reminder.

What does the guide tell us about staying safe online?

Protecting your devices

To ensure you are safeguarded, the booklet suggests that you follow the following ‘golden rules’:

  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully
  • Use a different password for every account (if you are worried about remembering them all you could sign up to a password manager)
  • Never share your passwords with anyone
  • Make sure your devices are protected by internet security software
  • Keep internet security software up-to-date
  • Never give away too much personal or financial information
  • Don’t click on any links or attachments unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source
  • Take your time and think twice to keep yourself safe.

Online shopping

Online shopping can be risky business if you are not sure what to look out for. Follow these handy tips to keep your financial information safe:

  • Look for third-party reviews or get recommendations from people you trust to make sure an online retailer is reputable
  • Check that the payment page is secure (is there a padlock in the browser frame and does the page address start with https://)
  • Never pay by bank transfer into a seller’s bank account unless you know and trust them
  • Don’t buy anything online via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Know that if you pay by credit card you are afforded greater protection
  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully and use a different password for every online shop in case your details get hacked
  • Logout after you’ve finished your shopping session
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.

Banking

Banking fraud is in the rise, so it’s vital that you know how to protect yourself online. For example:

  • Never share any sensitive information about yourself or your accounts, like your PIN or full banking password. Your bank would never ask for this information
  • Never be talked into withdrawing or transferring money for safekeeping
  • Don’t use online banking via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Don’t click any links that claim to be from your bank. Always go to your bank’s website by entering its proper address
  • Don’t let friends, family or anyone else borrow your payment cards
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.

Social media

When it comes to social media, too many of us are still willing to hand over our information without thinking about the consequences. To protect yourself online:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
  • Don’t be talked into any activity that makes you uncomfortable (e.g. sending images or extremist behaviour)
  • Being careful about what private information you share online – either about yourself or your friends/family
  • Don’t post anything that might offend or embarrass you or someone else. What goes online stays online, and this could cause you problems now and in the future
  • Review your privacy settings regularly
  • Review your contact list regularly
  • Use a different email account to register with the different social media platforms
  • Never post abusive comments that might offend individuals or groups of society. In some cases trolling is a criminal offence
  • Being aware of common phishing techniques and keeping an eye out for fraudsters who attempt to gather additional personal information.

Keeping children safe online

Today’s children are digital natives – and they use technology from a very early age. But we still need to keep them same online. To help do this:

  • Work with children, educating them as they grow about the benefits and risks of the internet
  • Be on hand to answer any questions they might have
  • Put safeguards in place such as parental controls and filters
  • Be digitally aware and informed about the latest apps, platforms etc.
  • Speak to other parents to share information.

Running a business

When you’re running a business, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of things going wrong. But the right preparation won’t just reduce the likelihood of data breaches occurring; it will also limit the fallout should the worst happen. To help keep your business safe online:

  • Run regular online safety and data protection training for all employees
  • Encourage staff to question anything they are unsure about or which seems irregular
  • Make sure physical access to devices and servers is strictly controlled
  • Introduce an Acceptable Use Policy for mobile devices
  • Carry out regular backups
  • Enforce strict access to company, employee and customer data
  • Have a software policy in place that covers usage, updates, licences, etc.
  • Make sure you safely dispose of hardware and data.

You can find more helpful information about staying safe online at www.getsafeonline.org.

Reporting cybercrime

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.

Victims of online offences such as scams and financial/identity fraud should contact Action Fraud to report their loss. You can do this online or via telephone.

For any other form of cybercrime such as online stalking, harassment, or fears about sexual grooming, you should contact the police directly.

Not just hackers

While the threat of cybercrime is something that everyone needs to take seriously, human error remains the leading cause of breaches. And, these errors (which are just as likely to happen offline) must also be addressed.

At Hayes Connor, our expert solicitors deal with a significant number of data breach cases every day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and understand how data breaches can affect people in different ways.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR CASE STUDIES TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE TYPES OF DATA BREACHES THAT ARE OCCURRING ACROSS THE UK.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.

data protection claims
,

Why do some people make a mockery out of data protection claims?

As data breaches continue to rise, we are holding more and more companies to account for their violations of trust when it comes to your valuable information. However, as we do that, we are sometimes compared to “ambulance chasers”.

But, while some might view GDPR claims as opportunist, for the millions of people suffering because of a data breach, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every day, privacy breaches are causing misery and upset to people across the UK.

Data breaches can be devastating

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we see many different types of claims. And we know how data breaches can affect people in different ways. For example:

  • As a direct result of a NHS privacy violation – our client’s relationship with her family broke down. She received threats from a family member resulting in police involvement. There was also an ongoing worry of further danger. Our client suffered stress, anxiety attacks and trauma. And she required medication to help manage the psychological effects of this terrible breach of trust
  • A bank sent personal information disclosing our client’s financial situation to his previous address. His ex-partner still lived there. This happened despite him changing his address with his bank five years ago. Our client’s ex-partner shared this information with her friends and family. This caused him significant distress and embarrassment. Furthermore, once aware of his financial position, our client’s ex-partner refused him access to their children and prevented him from taking them on holiday
  • A data mix up and breach saw a stranger turn up at our client’s home and accuse her of attempting to “clone” his daughter’s identity. Our client was alone with her two young children, one of who is disabled. She found this experience both frightening and upsetting.

As you can see, we deal with serious cases that often put people’s mental health. In some cases, even their lives at risk. So downplaying the impact of a data breach claim is extremely disrespectful to the victims.

GDPR data breaches must be taken seriously

When it became clear that people across the UK were mis-sold PPI, often to the tune of thousands of pounds, there was a surge of new claims management companies on the scene. All promising to help consumers get back what they were due.

But, all too often, these companies were more concerned about making fast cash than helping victims. Assurances of no up-front fees turned into extortionate commission rates. And that left people short-changed.

With the deadline for consumers to complain about the sale of PPI products coming to an end, many unscrupulous claims management firms will undoubtedly look to switch from PPI to GDPR to make money.

But, that doesn’t mean that victims of data breaches shouldn’t claim compensation. It’s not their fault that ambulance chasers are preparing to go after the GDPR negligent. What matters is that they get the professional legal representation they deserve.

We hate spam and pushy lawyers!

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we have never done PPI claims. What’s more, we only ever get in touch with people who have asked us to. This means we never cold call, send spam texts, spam emails, or engage in any other form of nuisance marketing. We never pressure anyone into making a claim.

Instead, we believe that it is vital to educate people to help prevent such breaches from happening. And, where a violation has occurred, we make no excuses for seeking compensation. This is necessary to help people get their lives back on track as soon as possible.

Furthermore, we don’t believe that our obligation to our clients stops there. We also give them all the information we can so that they can protect themselves after a breach, and stop a bad situation from becoming worse.

Organisations must be held to account for data breaches and their failure to protect our personal data

The sheer scale of the information we share on online is enough to leave victims open to the threat of financial and identity fraud. For example, with enough data, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.

But what many people don’t understand is that the emotional impact on victims can be just as devastating. For some people, the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect a person’s friends, family and job.

And, in most cases, data breaches aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack big businesses, but by organisations not taking data protection seriously resulting in simple human errors.

With hacks and breaches happening more and more often, something has to be done to make companies accountable for such loss and anguish. So, claiming compensation isn’t just in the best interests of victims – it could also be the only way to ensure that organisations implement more secure processes.

Perhaps it’s time to turn the spotlight on those businesses not doing enough to meet their legal obligations under the GDPR?