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What Should You Do with a Data Breach Letter?

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Receiving a data breach letter can be confusing and nerve-wracking if you have not received one before. When you receive a data breach letter it means that an organization that was responsible for protecting your sensitive data failed to do so. The letter will inform you of how the breach has affected you and your information, as well as provide you with other important information such as what happened and what you can do. While a data breach can be harmful, reading your data breach letter can help you navigate these challenges successfully. 

 

Read Your Data Breach Letter Closely

Above all, you need to read your data breach letter and pay close attention to the exact information inside of it. Instead of skimming it, take note of the information provided and then store the letter somewhere safe. In most cases, the letter will contain some or all of the following information: 

  • The date of the breach and what happened
  • Information on the how the attack impacted you
  • The timeline of the data breach investigation
  • Offers of free credit monitoring services if applicable 

Each of these points are vital to protecting your information in the aftermath of a data breach. Depending on the exact type of information that was stolen, you could experience different types of vulnerabilities. If your Social Security number and name leaked, for instance, you’ll have to deal with the danger of malicious actors taking out lines of credit in your name. On the other hand, stolen financial information could translate into money stolen directly from your accounts. 

Credit monitoring and other identity protection services can help you manage the danger of identity theft for a few years, as well. While they’re not a comprehensive solution, everything helps. A data breach letter can be a lifesaver when it comes to stolen financial information, as you can prevent damaging financial theft by changing your cards and account information. 

 

How Do You Discover a Data Breach? 

In most cases, people don’t know about a data breach until they receive their letter. The standard pattern for cyber attacks is that the attack happens, and then the victimized company discovers the attack in the days or weeks following. They have a legal window of time to investigate the breach, discover whose data the attack compromised, and to notify the public. Companies usually send out their letters at the same time they notify regulatory agencies such as the Attorney General of Maine

However, this isn’t always how it goes. Ransomware gangs that are behind malicious attacks often try to take advantage of victims, as do other scammers. Conflicting reports, rumors, and hearsay aren’t uncommon. If you’re afraid that you might have suffered a data breach, avoid unfamiliar or irrefutable sites. Visit “Have I Been Pwned?”, a free, secure site that informs members of the public of the status of their data. 

 

What Kinds of Data Might Be Stolen? 

The range of information that you’ll find in your data breach letter might include: 

  • Personal Identifying Information (PII) such as your full name and date of birth
  • Contact information such as your physical addresses and phone numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Passwords and answers to security questions
  • Financial information, including your payment information on debit and credit cards, as well as bank information
  • Health insurance information

Not all data breaches include all of these types of information. Furthermore, sometimes not all victims of a single data breach suffer equally. A data breach affecting millions of consumers might steal financial information from some, SSNs from another group, and personal identifying information (PII) from others. 

Your notification letter will usually uncover exactly what kind of information of yours was compromised, and may include offers of services to help you protect your identity. Opting into these is always the right decision, as they can help you stay safe and don’t take away from your right to mount a data breach lawsuit. 

 

How Your Data Breach Letter Can Help in a Lawsuit

If the negligence of the company helped expose your data, they could be liable in civil court for your damages. While the winnings in data breach class action lawsuits vary widely, it’s possible to obtain large settlements for victims' financial damages, lost time, and emotional distress relating to the breach. If you’re upset and angry about a company failing to protect your data, reach out to our data breach lawyers for further guidance. 

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