As the digital era drives forward, more and more of your personal identifying information is held by third party companies. Unfortunately, the number of data breaches is on the rise. Studies show that many companies still store your personal data in an unprotected fashion, exposed for everyone inside the company to access. This opens the door to data leaks, ransomware and the potential exposure of your personal identifying information, trusted to those companies.
It is becoming a regular occurrence that consumers are being notified by companies, large and small, that their data may have been compromised. Unfortunately, in todays electronic data environment, it is likely not a question of “if”, but “when” your personal identifying information will be compromised.
What To If You Believe Your Personal Identifying Information Was Exposed:
If you believe your credit card or personal information may have been exposed, consider the following:
- Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com
- Review your credit card transactions regularly to ensure they contain only your charges
- Place a fraud alert for a year, at no cost by contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies.
- Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services 800-685-1111
California’s Statutory Protections Against Identity Theft
If you are a resident of California, you fair better than those in other states lacking strong laws against identity theft. In almost all states it is a crime to steal the personal identifying information of another and use it for financial gain. The California Legislature has taken these protections and allowed for California consumers to defend collection lawsuits by asserting the defense of identity theft. See Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.93. For a willful violation of this statute, the defendant may be liable up to $30,000 in statutory damages, forced to pay any actual damages, and your attorneys fees and costs. Certain steps must be taken before this defense can properly be asserted. If you think you are a victim of identity theft and are receiving collection calls from your credit card company or any third party, please contact our office so we may review your case, free of charge.
Confidential Medical Information
More concerning than personal identifying information, data breaches affecting hospitals and health care facilities are on the rise. A data breach may not just include your social security number, but personal, private, sensitive medical data. California has taken steps legislatively to punish those medical facilities who expose your medical information. Nominal damages of $1,000 can be recovered or the amount of actual damages incurred. If you believe your medical information was exposed through a data breach, we want to hear from you. Contact our office today for a free consultation and share your story.