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What do you need to know about data protection claims?

data breach compensation

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.