Data breaches frequently occur when unauthorized third parties gain access to personal information. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems to access information such as bank accounts, health records, Social Security numbers, addresses, tax information and passwords. Making the situation more concerning, a report from Javelin Strategy & Research (2/2/16) notes that identity thieves have stolen around $112 billion in the past six years, the equivalent of around $35,600 per minute.
According to the FTC, identity theft was the second-highest complaint category, falling behind debt collection. Among identity theft complaints were tax- or wage-related fraud, credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, and bank fraud.
“Nearly half a million complaints sends a clear message: more needs to be done to protect consumers from identity fraud,” said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “One of the key drivers of the identity theft threat is the continuing flow of consumers’ personal information to fraudsters thanks to the ongoing epidemic of data breaches.”
Meanwhile, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has also indicated that data breaches are increasing. A news release issued by the Attorney General (5/4/16) notes that his office has received more than 40 percent more data breach notifications so far in 2016, compared to the same time span in 2015. From January 1 to May 2, 2016, the Attorney General’s office received 459 data breach notices, compared with 327 in the same period of 2015.
An earlier report issued by the New York Attorney General’s office found that hacking intrusions - where third parties gain unauthorized access to data stored on computers - were the number-one cause of data security breaches.
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Among possible compensation plaintiffs could be entitled to were the cost of credit-monitoring services, unreimbursed fraudulent charges and lost points on a debit card.
The lawsuit is Lewert et al. v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, No. 14-3700, in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
A full version of the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book can be found here.