The prospect of losing control of your personal information is a frightening one. And understandably so – after all, the consequences can be devastating. They range from financial loss to emotional distress and related health issues. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly common to hear about people seeking compensation for the misuse of their personal data. Many have even succeeded in obtaining data breach compensation payouts.
If you think your personal information may have been misused, it’s important to know what you can do. You may be relieved to discover there a number of actions you can take. In fact, you could even be entitled to compensation yourself. If you want to know more, read on. This post will provide an in-depth overview of what a data breach is and what to do if you are worried you may be a victim.
The challenge of keeping your data safe
It is now very common to share your personal information with a wide range of companies and organisations. In many cases, this is essential to using their services. It might be as simple as giving them your name and address when making a purchase. On the other hand, you might share lots of sensitive information about yourself. For example, your employer or medical practice may hold lots of personal data that you would not want to be shared with others.
Unsurprisingly, this can be a major source of anxiety. After all, the news is full of stories about companies misusing personal data. For instance, the popular social media platform TikTok is currently being sued for the alleged misuse of children’s data. The company has previously been fined for data breaches in the US and South Korea. Meanwhile, it was recently ruled that credit agency Experian was sharing the personal information of millions of people without consent.
However, you are not powerless. If your personal data has been misused, you can take action. This includes claiming for data breach compensation payouts. First of all, however, you need to know whether your data has in fact been misused. This is perhaps easier said than done. You may not be aware of companies’ responsibilities when it comes to your data. If so, how could you know if they were failing to meet them? Below, we’ll discuss in detail what a data breach is, and how to know if you are a victim.
What is a data breach?
In practice, it can be hard to know if you may have been a victim of a data breach. In fact, you may not even be sure of what a data breach is. The actual meaning is quite simple. All companies and institutions operating in the UK have a responsibility to adhere to data protection regulations. These regulations include the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If they fail to do so, then a data breach has occurred. But what does this mean for you?
The UK’s data protection regulations are quite in-depth. This is a good thing! But it also means they can be confusing, especially if you simply want to know whether a data breach has occurred. For example, it is not simply a question of making sure your data isn’t shared without your consent. Certainly, if a company does make your data available to others without permission – even unintentionally – then a data breach has occurred. But there are other considerations. Companies are also only allowed to keep data as long as is necessary. If they continue to store your data when they don’t need it, that is also a data breach. They even have a responsibility to keep it up-to-date and make sure it’s accurate.
Other data protection requirements include:
- Letting you know if your personal data is being stored
- Allowing you to access your data
- Providing you with a copy of your data if asked
As you can see, there are many ways in which a data breach can take place. Ultimately, if a company stores or processes your personal data, they have to follow these rules. If they fail to do so, a data breach has taken place, and you may be able to take action against them.
What can I do if I have been the victim of a data breach?
If you suspect your data has been mishandled, you have a number of options. One approach is to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is an independent body responsible for ensuring companies and organisations obey data protection laws. They can take up complaints by members of the public and investigate them. If they find that a breach has occurred, they will instruct the company to fix the issue. In extreme cases, they can issue legally binding enforcement notices. These can even result in criminal charges and fines.
However, there are certain things that the ICO cannot do. For example, the ICO cannot award compensation. This may mean that you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint. After all, a data breach can have a major, negative impact on your life. It is understandable that you would want to be compensated for this.
So, while we would certainly recommend making an ICO complaint if you are concerned about a company’s use of your data, it is worth considering additional steps. You may be one of the many people who are actually entitled to data breach compensation payouts. An ICO complaint can help your case, but will not itself result in you receiving compensation.
Can I claim compensation for a data breach?
Loss of Control
The simple answer is: yes! If a company or organisation has failed in their duty to protect your personal data, you have a right to claim compensation. This is true even if you have not personally suffered any loss as a result. As the law stands, you are entitled to data breach compensation payouts for the loss of control of your data. Compensation in these circumstances can start from £500 up to £2,000 depending on the sensitivity of the data lost.
However, you will have a stronger case if you can show it has led to some significant personal impact. Let’s look at some of the potential issues that can result from a data breach.
When we think of our data being stolen, this is often the first thing that comes to mind. With the rise of online shopping, for instance, many companies have access to our bank account details. A common fear, and a justifiable one, is that these may be stolen. This can lead directly to a major financial impact, including substantial payments being made from your account.
However, there are other ways that a data breach can lead to financial losses. For instance, identity theft is becoming increasingly common. With enough information, credit cards or loans can be set up in your name. You may find yourself suddenly owing a great deal of money about which you know nothing about. Needless to say, this is not the kind of surprise anyone looks forward to.
If you have suffered financially due to the misuse of your data, it can be an extremely difficult experience. Compensation is an important way to help undo some of the damage caused. Data breach compensation payouts are a vital way to help you recover from this kind of financial impact.
Having your personal information exposed can also have a major emotional impact. This is true even if you do not suffer any financial losses. The violation of your privacy itself can be very upsetting. You may also feel anxious about potential future impacts, whether or not they actually happen. The feeling of uncertainty is distressing and may lead to physical symptoms, including loss of sleep. It can have a serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing. It can even affect your job and relationships.
In such cases, compensation can be extremely helpful. Yes, it may not directly undo the damage caused. But it can be a way to achieve some closure, or to help with the cost of any treatment. So, if you have suffered any emotional distress as a result of a data breach, claiming compensation can be an important step.
The exposure of your personal information can also damage your reputation. This is particularly true of information related to your health or finances. The sharing of this kind of sensitive information can impact your personal relationships and your career. This is also a major concern in cases of identity theft. For instance, your name or photo may be used online in ways that have nothing to do with you, but which still have a direct and negative impact on your life.
This kind of damage can be long-lasting and hard to predict. It can continue to affect you for years into the future. As a result, there is a very strong case to be made for claiming compensation.
How much compensation can I receive?
This is certainly a very important question. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The amount you can receive depends on the circumstances. If you have suffered the kinds of harm described above as a result of a data breach, the amount you could receive will likely be higher. The more serious the breach was, and the bigger the impact on you, the stronger your case is. In the most serious cases, the compensation awarded can amount to tens of thousands of pounds.
How do I make a compensation claim?
Here at HNK Solicitors, we are long-term specialists in handling data breach claims. Our expert team can assess your situation and see what compensation you may be entitled to. We offer free consultations, so you can discuss a potential case without any obligations. If we do think you have a case, we can proceed with a no-win, no-fee arrangement. So, if you are concerned about a potential data breach, why not get in touch today? Call a member of our team on 0151 668 0814.