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data breach
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Charity data breaches double over past two years

According to figures obtained from the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO), the number of reported data breaches from charities has doubled. In 2017/18 there were 148 data security incidents referred to ICO by charitable and voluntary organisations. That’s a 100% increase over two years.

The rise in charity data breaches reflects a growing trend across all sectors. In fact, over the past two years, general business has seen a 215% increase and education and childcare organisations a 142% rise. On average, the number of reports across all sectors has grown by 75%.

The figures were obtained by risk management firm Kroll via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires organisations to report data breaches is thought to be a key factor in the increase of reports. And it is likely that we will continue to see a dramatic increase in data breach accounts now that self-reporting is mandatory.

A Kroll spokesperson said: “Reporting data breaches wasn’t mandatory for most organisations before the GDPR came into force, so while the data is revealing, it only gives a snapshot into the true picture of breaches suffered by organisations in the UK”.

Charity data breaches in the spotlight

Earlier this month it was revealed that a review of eight charities by the ICO uncovered many concerns around data monitoring, reporting and training. As the charities involved voluntarily took part in the ICO risk review, they have not been named.

In addition, earlier this year the British and Foreign Bible Society was fined £100,000 for failing to protect the personal data of 417,000 of its supporters. Following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), it was revealed that the Society exposed these supporters to possible financial or identity fraud.

With data breaches often causing significant distress for those affected, victims of the British and Foreign Bible Society data breach may now want to claim compensation. Find out more about this case.

Making a charity data breach claim

Many people donate to charities and causes they care about. But, while you might support them in their aims, it is vital that they meet their obligations when it comes to protecting your sensitive data.

Where they fail to do this, holding them to account is often the only way to ensure standards are improved. Often charities and organisations are insured against data breaches, so you don’t have to worry about the impact of the good work you support.

What’s more, it doesn’t matter if criminals haven’t used your data. If the data breach has caused you stress or anxiety, then the law agrees that you are entitled to compensation.

If you are worried that a charity has put your data at risk in any way, find out more about making a data breach compensation claim, or contact us today for a free initial assessment.

 

data protection
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Massive NHS data breach. Are you affected?

According to damming new research by a leading think tank, the NHS saw nearly 10,000 documents either stolen or missing last year. The massive data breach affects 68 hospitals.

According to the findings:

  • University Hospital Birmingham was the worst affected with 3,179 missing documents
  • Bolton NHS Trust suffered a significant data breach with 2,163 documents lost
  • University Hospital Bristol also lost 1,105 records
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust revealed that 425 of its records had been lost or stolen.

The information was collated via a Freedom of Information request pertaining to lost and/or stolen patient records. You can read the report in full here.

Reasons for the data breaches are said to include outdated and insecure methods of documentation, and cheap vulnerable means of recording. For example, 94% of NHS Trusts still use handwritten notes for patient record keeping and encrypted platforms are not thought to be widely used.

In June this year, we revealed that 150,000 patients have had their confidential data used without consent in another major NHS data breach. In this case, confidential personal data, given on the basis that it was to be used to provide medical care, was exploited for clinical audit and research purposes by the NHS, without the consent of patients. We have also looked at how healthcare accounts for nearly half of all data breaches.

In addition to human error the health service remains a top target for hackers. For example, one of the largest and most infamous cyberattacks on the NHS was the WannaCry attack in 2017.

So, with identity fraud and sales of patient records on the dark web on the rise, it is vital that the NHS does more to protect our sensitive information.

Have you been affected by the latest NHS data breach?

If you have suffered damage or distress caused by a medical or other healthcare organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act, you have a right to claim compensation.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we’ve been helping people to do just that for over 50 years, so we know what it takes to make a successful medical data breach compensation claim.

With strict-time limits in place for making most compensation claims, if you want to achieve maximum recompense in the minimum amount of time, it’s essential to act now.

Start a claim for compensation

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Making a compensation claim helps to address the real-life impact of data breaches

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help our clients to make compensation claims after their data has been put at risk by the organisations they trust to look after it.

In some cases, these data breaches are massive news stories following hacks against the likes of Ticketmaster, Equifax and British Airways. But, every day, we also help people come to terms with smaller data breaches that have a severe and often lasting impact on them.

But, although we believe that these organisations must be held to account for their failure to protect our personal information, all too often people who make a data breach claim are accused of “trying to get something for nothing”. So let’s set the record straight.

The impact of cybercrime can be devastating

Cybercrime 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.

Following last year’s Ticketmaster data breach, 63% of all the clients we took on suffered multiple fraudulent transactions on their payment cards.

Worryingly, getting your money back following a scam is not always easy. For example, in a recent example of takeover fraud, a customer of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) had more than £4,300 stolen from her account despite the fraudulent caller answering one of her security questions incorrectly. Despite the failure in their processes, the bank maintained that the customer was aware of the transaction and refused to refund her. Find out more about this case.

Claiming for distress isn’t an overreaction

Even if you haven’t lost out financially after a data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is “no harm done.”

A personal data breach is a 21st-century version of being burgled. If a criminal came into your home and stole your private information, you would be distressed. So why should you feel any less upset at having your online data taken?

Following last year’s Ticketmaster data breach, 31% of all our clients involved in this case 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 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”.

Even smaller data breach cases can have a huge impact. For example, in a recent case, our solicitors saw the impact of what can happen when sensitive information was sent to the wrong address by mistake.

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 psychological suffering and anguish. Crucially, the law agrees and recognises the amount of damage that can be caused by having your information stolen.

Holding organisations to account could be the only way to ensure they take your security seriously

The sheer scale of the information we share with organisations is enough to leave us all open to the threat of fraud, anxiety and stress. So it’s no surprise that we are worried about what could happen if this data gets into the wrong hands. As such, something has to be done to make companies accountable for any harm done.

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. But this doesn’t let these organisations off the hook. If they have done everything in their power to protect your data and have robust security processes and procedures in place, it is unlikely that a claim would be successful. In fact, this is why we usually wait for the results of an investigation by the ICO before starting a claim.

But the reality is that in most cases, data breaches happen because of a failure to implement reasonable and robust processes. So claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests, the only way these organisations will be persuaded to take their responsibilities seriously and make the necessary improvements is by hurting their bottom line.

The real-life impact of data breaches

At Hayes Connor, we want to reduce the number of data violations taking place across the UK. 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 on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.

libel
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Online defamation and libel: know your rights

Defamation is a bit of a hot topic at the moment. Earlier this year, writer and food blogger Jack Monroe won a libel action against Katie Hopkins, and was awarded £24,000 damages, for tweets which suggested that Monroe approved of defacing a war memorial during an anti-austerity demonstration in Whitehall. As a result of the fine, Hopkins had to apply for an insolvency agreement to avoid bankruptcy. Libel is a form of defamation.

Other instances where defamation has been brought into the public eye include where high-profile celebrities or businesspeople have brought an injunction to prevent the publication of material that would be damaging to their reputation (so-called gagging orders).

If you have been the victim of online defamation, it’s vital that you know your rights and what you can do to protect your reputation and achieve redress.

What is defamation?

Defamation is an all-encompassing term that covers any statement that damages someone’s reputation.

A defamatory statement can be made in:

  • Verbal form. This is classed as slander because only the spoken word is involved. Slander can be difficult to prove
  • Written form. This is classed as libel. A case for libel is easier to bring because evidence can be documented.

Defamation makes an ordinary person modify their opinions of another person as a direct result of hearing or reading the statement. Under UK law it is possible to defame businesses as well as individuals. A person that has suffered a defamatory statement can sue the person that made the statement under defamation law.

What is libel?

Online defamation tends to involve libel. You could accuse someone of libel against you if they:

  • Sent an email, or an email attachment defaming you, where that email is widely posted or forwarded
  • Made defamatory material available via a web page
  • Posted defamatory material to an email list or newsgroup
  • Streamed defamatory audio or video.

Anyone who actively transmits defamatory material may also be liable as part of any legal action.

What about freedom of expression?

It is accepted in a democratic society that individuals have a right to express their views and preferences. The internet offers great potential to do this.

Defamation is an abuse of this freedom of expression; where untrue statements may have a harmful impact on a person’s reputation.

It is critical to ensure that unfounded claims should not be allowed to damage a person’s reputation, but it is also vital for the law to balance such protections with the rights to freedom of expression. As such, the issue of defamation has become a much contested topic.

Of course, there is a balance to be had between one person’s right to protect their good name and another person’s freedom of speech. However, if someone has made an untrue statement about you, which was published on the internet, and which caused you injury, then you are entirely in your rights to sue for online defamation.

ticketmaster
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The real-life impact of a large data breach

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we’re helping victims of the Ticketmaster data breach to claim compensation after their data was put at risk.

But, some nine months after the breach, what are the real-life effects of the Ticketmaster data hack?

63% of all the clients we took on suffered multiple fraudulent transactions on their payment cards.

Cybercrime can result in both financial and/or identity theft. And, in this case the majority of our clients have gone on to suffer fraudulent activity.

What can you do to protect yourself from fraud?

With enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts. And, getting your money back is not always easy.

Here are a few steps to help protect your cards from being used by hackers:

  • If you are worried that your banking details have been exposed, contact your bank immediately and ask them to keep a close eye on your account
  • Request a new card from your bank
  • Beware of fraudsters who attempt to gather personal information (phishing)
  • Report any suspected phishing attempts to the police and relevant authorities
  • Look out for any bills or emails showing goods or services you haven’t ordered, or any unfamiliar transactions on your account and alert your bank or card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity
  • Keep an eye on your credit score for any unexpected dips. Call Credit, Experian and Equifax to ensure credit isn’t taken out in your name
  • Beware of any unsolicited communications that refer you to a web page asking for personal data
  • Register with a suitable fraud prevention service
  • Change your passwords on all your accounts
  • Never automatically save your card details online.

31% of all clients involved in this case suffered from distress and/or psychological trauma.

Following the Ticketmaster data breach, 31% of all our clients involved in this case 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 crime can have a significant impact on a person mentally and physically. Everyone reacts differently, but for some people, the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect their friends, family and 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 psychological suffering and anguish. Crucially, the law agrees and recognises the amount of damage that can be caused by having your information stolen.

Make a Ticketmaster compensation claim with Hayes Connor Solicitors

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are investigating the options available for customers of the Ticketmaster group.

As Ticketmaster has already admitted the breach and informed customers, those affected should already know if their data has been put at risk.

To ensure that you are fully informed on this matter complete your details and we will notify you about the investigation and your legal rights when making a claim.

REGISTER YOUR DETAILS TODAY.

BA data breach
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What’s happening in the British Airways data breach group action?

Last year, almost 400,000 British Airways customers had their bank card details stolen in one of the most severe cyber-attacks in UK history. In response, our expert data breach solicitors are preparing to launch a British Airways data breach group action once the relevant investigations are complete.

What happened in this case?

British Airways has apologised after admitting that its customers’ details were stolen over a period of 15 days in a massive data breach. The attack put the personal and financial information of customers making bookings at risk. In total, about 380,000 transactions were affected.

We could be talking about one of the most serious data breach cases to hit the UK, so we quickly began to receive enquiries from concerned passengers.

Where are we up to?

We are currently preparing to launch a British Airways data breach group action. A group action is undoubtedly the best way forward for data breach claims of this nature. It allows people with the same type of claim to bring it together on a collective basis to strengthen their overall position and increase their chances of success.

We have also sent a ‘Letter of Claim’ to BA and their solicitors. This shows them that we are serious about pursuing potential litigation on behalf of our clients.

We have also met with other solicitors who are also pursuing claims against BA for the data breach. We believe that a joined-up approach with these solicitors will allow us to proceed on a similar footing with the other claimants, and maximise our chances of success.

Why claim against a victim of a cyber-attack?

It’s true that cybercriminals carried out a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack” on the British Airways website.

But this doesn’t let BA off the hook. These hackers spent more than two weeks accessing data online before the hack was spotted and reported. This increases the risk substantially. So it’s unlikely that

BA did everything in its power to protect your data or had secure security processes and procedures in place.

The reality is that in most cases, data breaches happen because of a failure to implement reasonable and robust processes. So claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests, the only way these organisations will be persuaded to take their responsibilities seriously and make the necessary improvements is by hurting their bottom line.

What should you do if you are worried?

For anyone worried that their data has been exposed by British Airways, you should:

  1. Determine what was stolen. To protect yourself as much as possible you need to know what kind of information was accessed in the data breach. British Airways should be able to advise you on this
  2. Contact your bank. If any financial information has been stolen, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately and explain that your account is at risk of fraud. As well as issuing a new card, the bank should be able to advise you if it detects suspicious activity on your account
  3. Change your passwords. If an online account (such as an email address) has been compromised, change the password right away. You should also change all other accounts that use the same password, and – if your email could be compromised – any accounts that could be accessed via your email. To keep you safe in the future, create a secure, unique password for each account (you might want to consider using a password manager to do this for you)
  4. Deploy additional security measures. If an app or website offers two-factor authentication to protect an account, use it
  5. Be vigilant. Beware of scammers using your stolen data against you. For example, don’t click on any links in emails asserting to be from your bank and always use the numbers they provide on their website if they ask to talk to you
  6. Sign up for a credit and/or identity-monitoring service. This will help you to monitor your financial accounts and sensitive personal information. Many organisations will offer such services free following a data breach but it’s important to check the small print. Be careful that in accepting any offer you are not giving away your rights to pursue a separate data breach compensation claim at a later date
  7. Keep a record. Make a list of all the accounts that could have been accessed and note down why you are concerned about them
  8. Inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about your concerns. At present, the ICO is investigating the British Airways data breach. While it does not award compensation, if the ICO believes that the organisation in question broke the law, you can use this information in court to help prove your claim
  9. Contact Hayes Connor Solicitors ASAP. We’ll ensure that you are fully informed on this matter and will notify you about the investigation and your legal rights when making a claim.

To join our British Airways data breach group action compensation claim, you will need you to register with us. We’ll let you know what is happening in this case and if and when you can make a data breach compensation claim.

REGISTER NOW

bank details
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Banks issue new cards after Ticketmaster data breach

Nine months after the Ticketmaster data breach, two high street banks are sending out replacement credit and debit cards for customers who might have been put at risk.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest have written to some customers informing them that they will be issued with replacement cards following last year’s Ticketmaster breach.

The letters state that replacement cards are being sent to anyone who used their card at Ticketmaster, while noting that this is a precautionary measure and that in some cases there is no indication that their information has been accessed.

What happened in the Ticketmaster data breach?

The hack hit around 40,000 people in the UK and compromised personal and financial information including customer names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, payment details and account login details. Some customers have already had their cards used by cybercriminals.

Find out more about the Ticketmaster data breach.

However, some customers of NatWest and RBS have taken to social media to complain about the way the incident has been handled.

Concerns include:

  • That this is the first time some customers have heard of the breach
  • Customers being unsure whether the letters are genuine
  • The length of time it has taken the banks to address this issue (banking start-up Monzo requested replacement Mastercards for all affected customers in April 2018).

How to protect your bank details from hackers

Following the Ticketmaster data breach, here are a few steps to help protect your cards from being used by hackers:

  • If you are worried that your banking details have been exposed, contact your bank immediately and ask them to keep a close eye on your account
  • Request a new card from your bank
  • Beware of fraudsters who attempt to gather personal information (phishing)
  • Report any suspected phishing attempts to the police and relevant authorities
  • Look out for any bills or emails showing goods or services you haven’t ordered, or any unfamiliar transactions on your account and alert your bank or card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity
  • Keep an eye on your credit score for any unexpected dips. Call Credit, Experian and Equifax to ensure credit isn’t taken out in your name
  • Beware of any unsolicited communications that refer you to a web page asking for personal data
  • Register with a suitable fraud prevention service
  • Change your passwords on all your accounts
  • Never automatically save your card details online.

Lessons learned

Obviously, RBS and NatWest are in no way responsible for the Ticketmaster data breach. But as such hacks become increasingly common, how banks react to protect their customers following such violations has never been more important.

Since the start of the Ticketmaster breach we’ve advised clients to request new cards from their bank. But it cannot just be left to victims of data theft to protect themselves. At Hayes Connor, we would argue that a speedier response is now needed and that this is something all credit and debit cards providers must address.

Make a Ticketmaster compensation claim with Hayes Connor Solicitors

At Hayes Connor we are already representing people who have been put at risk due to the Ticketmaster data hack.

IF YOU WISH TO BE A PART OF THIS CLAIM THEN REGISTER YOUR DETAILS TODAY.

DATA BREACH
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Human error rather than cybercrime biggest cause of self-reported data protection breaches

Human error rather than cybercrime biggest cause of self-reported data protection breaches

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the number of reported data protection breaches has almost doubled since April this year.

The increase has happened since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25th. Under the GDPR the self-reporting of data breaches is now mandatory. As such, we can expect to see this increase in data breach reporting to continue to rise.

However, despite fears about cybercrime, human error is seven times more likely to cause data protection breaches than hackers.

According to data released under the Freedom of Information Act, out of 2,124 self-reported data breaches in 2017-18, fewer than 300 were because of cybercrime.

Common causes for these data violations include:

  • Data sent to the wrong recipient
  • Loss of theft of paperwork
  • Failure to redact data
  • Failure to use bcc when sending an email
  • Unencrypted devices being lost or stolen

Worryingly, while cybercrime is not responsible for most data protection breaches, reported cybersecurity incidents have increased by 31% over the same period. Of these attacks, malware, phishing and ransomware were the most common culprits.

Which sectors report the most data protection breaches?

The sectors most affected by data protection breaches are:

  • Healthcare with 1,214 data breach reports (this sector was already subject to self-reporting before the GDPR)
  • General business with 362 data breach reports
  • Education and childcare with 354 data breach reports
  • Local government with 328 data breach reports.

In total, taking into account self-reported breaches and complaints from elsewhere, the ICO received a staggering 21,019 data protection concerns in 2017/18.

What can you do if you are the victim of a data protection breach?

The ICO can impose hefty fines on organisations that don’t meet their obligations under the Data Protection Act. The biggest fine it has issued so far is for £400,000, but that was made before the new GDPR rules. However, the ICO does not award compensation to victims.

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. At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we’ve been helping people to do just that for over 50 years, so we know what it takes to make a successful data breach compensation claim.

Crucially, the law recognises 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.

Our expert, friendly team will advise you on whether you have a valid claim and will be pleased to answer any questions you might have. If you are not sure whether your information has been misused or mishandled, we can find this out for you.

If we believe you have a substantial, complex case, we’ll go through your options with you and may be able to act for you on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis. For smaller claims, our quick assessment form will help you to start your claim, quickly and easily. So you can be sure of receiving your compensation in the shortest possible time.

We can help you to claim compensation for data protection breaches, data leaks, human rights breaches, and the misuse of personal information.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we understand that making a compensation claim can be stressful; especially where your sensitive information has already been breached. That’s why we remove the jargon from the process and make sure you always know what’s happening with your case. Of course, it goes without saying that our process is fully compliant with ICO guidance and we never put your details at risk.

START A DATA BREACH CLAIM

data breach trends
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Hayes Connor insights: data breach trends in 2018

Scrutinising the past 12 months, Kingsley Hayes, expert data protection solicitor and MD of Hayes Connor, looks at some of the key trends and insights we are seeing in this evolving area of law.

A lack of care is rife

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we have received more than 2,500 enquiries from customers who have suffered as a direct result of a high profile data breach. That’s in the last six months alone.

These cases saw breaches of personal, financial and sensitive data involving the likes of Ticketmaster, British Airways, Dixons Carphone and Facebook.

Disturbingly, the response provided by many of these large organisations falls short of what we would expect. In many instances, when a breach occurs the accepted risk management plan seems to be:

  1. Say sorry
  2. Provide free security monitoring software
  3. Promise it won’t happen again
  4. Advise the customer that there is nothing that they can do to remedy any losses they might suffer.

Such a noticeable absence of care over the very real impact of a data breach should not be tolerated or accepted.

In 2019 we would challenge businesses to do more to accept their data privacy responsibilities and provide adequate redress where they fail to do so.

If this challenge is not accepted, more and more customers will look for help to protect their privacy, and claim back from organisations where they have suffered loss. Put simply, to avoid the threat of data breach compensation claims, businesses must do more than pay lip-service to the idea of data protection.

The financial impact of data breaches is not immediately apparent

At this stage, it has become clear that the impact and losses people sustain following a data breach are not always immediately apparent. Indeed, at Hayes Connor, we have seen cases where the financial losses only start to occur three to six months later. This is often because data stolen is used in batches over time.

With major breaches now occurring weekly (particularly in the retail sector), we expect this situation to escalate. As such, more must be done to protect customers following a data breach – and this cannot be a short-term fix.

Individuals are becoming more aware of their data protection rights

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 coincided with a significant increase in reported data breaches. So it seems that the GDPR has created greater public awareness about individual rights.

Indeed, at Hayes Connor we are currently dealing with over 200 enquiries per month from consumers. Complaints range from the inappropriate use of email to the deliberate or inadvertent disclosure of sensitive, financial, and medical information to third parties.

In most of these cases, the victim of the data breach will have tried to engage with the organisation that has committed the breach and been either rebuffed or provided with a wholly inadequate excuse. In almost all cases the organisation at fault fails to recognise the damage caused by the breach and loss.

The emotional impact of data breaches is not been taken seriously by organisations

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. And, being the victim of a crime can have a substantial 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.

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”.

Crucially, the law understands the damage that can be caused by worry and upset. But it doesn’t appear that organisations do.

In our experience, companies and their representatives (be they legal or insurance based) 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.

We’ve seen cases where experiencing a data breach has resulted in adverse life events such as having to move house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury. And, like financial losses, this is often happening months after the initial breach was revealed.

As awareness of the impact of data breaches grows, so does the need for the breaching organisation to understand that they must assess each victim as an individual, and understand the repercussions of the offence. One size does not fit all.

The ICO’s approach doesn’t yet meet the needs of the individual

Over the last few months, we’ve paid close attention to how the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has responded to data breaches.

In our opinion, the ICO has taken a proactive stance when it comes to commenting on large-scale breaches. This has no doubt been done to secure the attention of the media and politicians, and to make sure that organisations take appropriate action in the immediate aftermath of any breach.

While we understand this approach, we also believe that the still ICO requires education on the lasting a full impact of data breaches. Because to date, the experience of the individual is still being downgraded.

As it stands, the ICO is not coming down hard on organisations that are reporting data breaches and apologising for the violations. This can leave victims of data breaches wondering whether their suffering has even been taken into account.

For example, at Hayes Connor, we have experience of a particular organisation with a track record of committing data breaches that can only be described as atrocious. Over the last four years over 150 reported incidents of the same type have been made, and despite reported changes to process and internal governance, in the months leading up to the implementation of the GDPR another significant and life-affecting breach occurred. Unfortunately, for those involved in this case, the ICO’s response was less than satisfactory. We hope that, as time progresses, so too will the ICO’s approach.

The law is evolving when it comes to data protection

Of course, data privacy is still a relatively new area of law. So it’s to be expected that it is still evolving. Recently we have seen more emphasis on the relationship between privacy rights and data protection from a legal perspective. And this is good news for individuals as it means we can start a claim based on more than one ground (i.e. for the misuse of private information and for breach of data protection obligations).

Other significant developments include:

  • Making it much easier to bring claims for compensation for distress alone (rather than as an add-on to a financial loss claim)
  • The courts looking at a wider-range of factors when deciding on appropriate compensation (e.g. the consequences of the misuse of data, what information was breached, etc.)
  • The ability to hold organisations to account for data breaches caused by employees, third-parties, etc.

Also, the law now realises how important it is that cases are assessed in detail and on their unique merits.

Ultimately, while much has been achieved since the introduction of the GDPR, there is still a fair way to go before individuals can expect a standard of data protection we should all aspire too. And, until then, it seems likely that data breach claims will only continue to increase.

If you would like to contact us regarding a data breach case then you can do so here

data breach compensation

Who can make a data breach claim?

Data breach claims are on the rise, not least because more and more organisations are using our sensitive personal data without investing in the necessary security measures to keep it safe.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, our data breach lawyers are committed to upholding the rights of consumers across the UK. And, as part of this responsibility, we aim to ensure that as many people as possible understand their rights when it comes to this evolving and often complicated area of law.

So, in the UK, who can make a data breach claim?

Anyone who has suffered damage or distress caused by an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act (the UK’s interpretation of the GDPR), has the right to claim compensation following a data breach. Both individuals and companies can make a data breach claim for compensation.

But, to claim compensation you must be able to prove that you suffered as a result of the data protection breach. And you can claim for both damages and distress.

Until recently, while a person who suffered damage might have had their compensation increased to take into account any associated distress, in most cases compensation would not have been awarded for distress alone. The only exception to this is where information had been used for journalistic, artistic, or literary purposes. However, this is no longer the case.

Today, you can make a data breach claim for distress even if you have not lost out financially.

How should you start your data breach claim?

If you think that a company is not looking after your data as well as it should, you can make a subject access request. You can make a subject access request at any time. For example, many of our clients make subject access requests to start the compensation claim process following a data breach. Find out more about how to make a subject access request here.

You should also ask the ICO to assess an organisation if you think it is guilty of a breach. If you want to contact the ICO you can do this here.

If the ICO thinks that an organisation has not complied with its obligations, it can give advice and ask it to solve the problem. The ICO’s main aim is to improve the information rights practices of organisations, where there is an opportunity to do so. However, the ICO will not usually investigate concerns where there has been an undue delay in bringing it to its attention. So, you should raise your concerns with the ICO within three months of your last meaningful contact with the organisation concerned (when you discovered the data breach).

However, it’s important to understand that, while the ICO does have the power to impose hefty fines on organisations in breach of their duties, it does not award compensation. But if the ICO thinks that an organisation is guilty of a breach, you can then use this information to support a data protection compensation claim.

Appointing an expert data protection solicitor

If you have contacted the ICO about a potential breach, Hayes Connor Solicitors can start to investigate your claim. We will work with the ICO to gather as much evidence as possible to help our clients succeed. In some cases, we can start a data breach claim without you having first registered your concerns with the ICO, but we always recommend this as a first step.

If you want to find out more about claiming for a data breach you can contact us here.