Recently, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers confirmed that the company experienced a data security incident resulting in the names and Social Security numbers of as many as 9,566 individuals being compromised. If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of this investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.
Last year, 1,862 data breaches affected more than 189 million people. On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, credit damage, and may even end up with a criminal record. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.
What We Know So Far About the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Data Breach
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers is a company specializing in selling industrial equipment through live and online auctions. The company entered the auction business in 1955 and is currently based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Ritchie Bros. has 40 auction sites in 12 different countries. Most of the products sold by the company are used in the construction, transportation, agricultural, material handling, mining, forestry, petroleum, and marine industries.
According to an official filing by the company, on November 14, 2021, Ritchie Bros. was alerted that an unauthorized user had gained access to portions of the company’s computer system on October 28, 2021. The following day, on November 15, 2021, began an internal investigation of the data security incident. It was later determined that the unauthorized person was able to remove certain files from the company’s internal network and post them online.
Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised. On February 18, 2022, the company completed its review of the leaked data. While the compromised information varies by consumer, it may include individuals’ full names and Social Security numbers.
On March 11, 2022, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.
More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches
Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted Ritchie Bros., it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those companies believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.
Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases a company experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for the company to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.
While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of an unauthorized person. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.
Given this reality, individuals who receive a Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Ritchie Bros. are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Ritchie Bros. failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.
What Are Consumers’ Remedies in the Wake of the Ritchie Bros. Data Breach?
When customers decided to do business with Ritchie Bros., they assumed that the company would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that consumers would think twice before giving a company access to their information if they knew it wasn’t going to be secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of a company’s data security system.
When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores consumer data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.
Of course, given the recency of the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting Ritchie Bros. is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.
If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Data Breach Notification?
If Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers sends you a data breach notification letter, you are among those whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:
Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.
Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.
Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, companies often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against the company if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.
Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.
Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.
Below is a copy of the initial data breach letter issued by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers:
Ritchie Bros. is writing to you about a cybersecurity event. Please read this notice carefully, as it provides information on what happened and what we are doing, as well as information on how you can obtain complimentary credit monitoring and identity restoration services.
On November 14, 2021, Ritchie Bros. was alerted to activity indicating unauthorized access by a third party to portions of our IT systems that started on October 28, 2021. Upon detection, we took immediate steps to shut down further access to the affected systems. We terminated the unauthorized access on November 15, 2021, reported the event to law enforcement, and worked with external cybersecurity experts to investigate the event and determine what happened, what data was impacted, and to whom the data belonged. Through the investigation, we learned that the unauthorized third party was able to misappropriate a number of files from our internal network and made them available online.
What information was involved?
Once Ritchie Bros. was able to identify affected files, we began a process to determine who was affected and the types of information that were affected. This analysis was time consuming. We completed this process on February 18, 2022.
We have determined that you were affected and that some of your personal information was accessed or acquired, including the following: <><>.
What we are doing:
Ritchie Bros. is offering you two (2) years of complimentary credit monitoring and identity restoration services.
Please see Attachment A for details regarding these services, as well as how to activate with your unique code. You must activate by <> to receive these services.
Ritchie Bros. is committed to safeguarding confidential and sensitive information, and it values your privacy. As part of our ongoing security operations, we review our security and privacy policies and procedures and implement changes when appropriate to enhance our information security and privacy program and controls. Ritchie Bros. has also implemented additional security measures which have included reinforcing our security practices and fortifying our security monitoring and controls.
What you can do:
In addition to activating the credit monitoring and identity restoration services being offered to you at no charge, we encourage you to take the following precautions:
It is always a good idea to remain vigilant against threats of identity theft or fraud, and to regularly review and monitor your account statements and credit history for any signs of unauthorized transactions or activity.
If you ever suspect that you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, you can contact your local police. Additional information about how to protect your identity is contained in Attachment B.
For more information:
Ritchie Bros. has established a dedicated call center to answer questions. If you have any questions about the event, please call the call center 1-855-618-3209 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CT, excluding major US holidays.