The T-Mobile Breach doesn’t include financial data so why does it matter?

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T-Mobile has admitted to a severe data breach. And, while it has been very unforthcoming about the details of the data hack, it doesn’t appear that financial info has been exposed. So, does it even matter?

Well, yes.

According to T-Mobile, names, phone numbers, account details and addresses of pre-paid customers have been exposed in the data breach. And that should worry everyone involved.

Personal data can be used to scam people into handing over financial info following the T-Mobile breach

While payment and credit card information are not thought to be included in the breach, that doesn’t mean victims are safe. A phone number alone is often enough for hackers to extort further information and commit crimes. Indeed, we regularly deal with cases where seemingly “safe” data exposed in a breach is used to commit financial theft.

For example, phishing scammers use emails, texts, websites, phone calls and social media to access your data, your computer, or your financial accounts. Typical phishing scams include:

  • Where fraudsters contact you posing as your bank and tell you that you are at risk of fraud
  • Where fraudsters contact you posing as a company (e.g. T-Mobile) and encourage you to update your financial details with them
  • Where scammers send out an email from a service you use (e.g. T-Mobile). This message instructs you to click on a link which leads to a fake page that collects further details.

Unfortunately, where someone has become a victim of a phishing scam, their bank is not always responsible for their losses. So, people can be left not knowing where to turn.

The theft of personal data can be extremely distressing

The impact of data breaches goes much further than financial losses.  We’ve seen cases where experiencing a data breach has resulted in adverse life events. For example, having to move to a new house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of this can have an impact on a person’s mental health. And, like financial losses, this often happens months after the initial breach.

We interviewed renowned clinical psychologist Professor Hugh C. H. Koch to find out more about the typical psychological effects experienced by victims of data breaches. He told us that:

“Data breach victims typically experience high levels of anxiety, specific to the data breach but also generalised to other aspects of dealing with correspondence, telephone and digital communication and payment for services. Victims experience social anxiety, with difficulties dealing with friends and neighbours, tradesmen, shopping transactions and can develop oversensitivity or paranoia in their communications with others. They can also develop varying aspects of mood disturbances or depression especially including poor sleep and tearfulness.”

You can read this article in full here.

Your personal data can be used against you following the T-Mobile data breach

According to a report by The Independent, the personal data of UK citizens is selling for as little as £10 on the dark web. And there is a misconception that some forms of personal data are not as valuable as others. But this isn’t necessarily the case. All too often, cyber-criminals use names and email addresses stolen in a data protection act breach to commit identity fraud.

Also, there are serious concerns about how (often stolen) data is being used for political purposes. In fact, in 2017, the UK’s data protection regulator (the ICO) launched a formal investigation into this very topic. The investigation is one of the largest of its kind and is ongoing. Furthermore, the Electoral Commission, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee and The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising have all raised concerns about how data is being used to micro-target voters.

According to an ICO report:

“Citizens can only make truly informed choices about who to vote for if they are sure that those decisions have not been unduly influenced. The invisible, ‘behind the scenes’ use of personal data to target political messages to individuals must be transparent and lawful if we are to preserve the integrity of our election process”.

You have a legal right to data privacy

Everyone in the UK has the right to the protection of their personal data, and we expect big companies to put enough security processes in place to keep intruders out.

A data breach is a severe failure, so, even if your information is never used against you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t hold T-Mobile to account for putting it at risk in the first place.

Regardless of the outcome of this breach, T-Mobile neglected to protect its customers’ privacy rights, so, you have a right to claim compensation.

Are you at risk?

T-Mobile has said that all affected individuals have been, or will shortly be, notified. However, it also says that if you don’t receive a notification, this could be because they don’t have up-to-date contact information for you. So, all customers should check their contact details on their account in the event that T-Mobile needs to reach them.

If you are a T-Mobile customer, it is also worth checking your spam folder and any old email accounts in case the email has gone there.

If you are/were a pre-paid T-Mobile customer, and you have not received a notification and would like to confirm if your information was impacted, you can email privacy@t-mobile.com.

Making a T-Mobile data breach claim

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are considering starting a no-win, no-fee group litigation action for UK customers who have had their data privacy violated in the T-Mobile data breach. To become part of this group action, we need you to register with us. This guarantees that you will form part of the compensation claims that will be lodged by us.

Our data protection breach solicitors are true experts in this type of law. Unlike other firms, it is all we do, and we have been doing it for longer than most. So, we are confident that our team will get the results you deserve. We have all the experience and expertise necessary to get the best possible outcome for you.

We can take on your claim on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Register now

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/dark-web-id-value-hackers-cyber-crime-a8683821.html