Recently, TOPS Staffing, LLC confirmed that the personal information of as many as 7,118 employees was compromised as a result of a data security incident. 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 TOPS Staffing 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 TOPS Staffing.
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 TOPS Staffing Data Breach
According to an official filing by the company, on June 7, 2021, TOPS staffing learned that an unauthorized party gained access to its computer system, encrypting certain files. In response, TOPS Staffing secured its network and began an investigation into the incident to determine whether any consumer or employee information was accessible as a result of the breach. Following the investigation, the company could not rule out the possibility that the unauthorized party accessed the affected files.
Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, TOPS Staffing then reviewed all affected files to determine what information was compromised. The company concluded its review of the files on October 5, 2021. While the compromised information varies by employee, it may include employees’ names, Social Security numbers, tax ID numbers, driver’s licenses numbers, state identification card numbers, passport numbers, military identification numbers and financial account numbers.
On November 5, 2021, TOPS Staffing began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident. However, some of those letters were returned due to an invalid address. Around March 11, 2022, Tops Staffing resent data breach notifications to affected parties.
TOPS Staffing, LLC is a temporary employment agency based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and consists of five specialty recruiting firms, TOPS Staffing, LLC, eStaff Search Group, Inc., AccountStaff, Inc., AllTek Staffing & Resource Group, Inc., Sterling Office Professionals LLC. Through these divisions, the company fills a wide range of positions, including light technical and skilled assembly workers, accounting and finance personnel, engineers, data analysts, and administrative and human resources personnel.
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 TOPS Staffing, 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 TOPS Staffing data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like TOPS Staffing are responsible for protecting the employee data in their possession. If evidence emerges that TOPS Staffing 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 TOPS Staffing Data Breach?
When employees decided to work with TOPS Staffing, they assumed that the company would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that prospective employees 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 employee data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers and employees to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.
Of course, given the recency of the TOPS Staffing 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 TOPS Staffing 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 TOPS Staffing, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a TOPS Staffing Data Breach Notification?
If TOPS Staffing 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 TOPS Staffing, LLC (the actual notice sent to employees can be found here, and the updated data breach notification can be found here):
Out of an abundance of caution, TOPS Staffing, LLC and its affiliates eStaff Search Group, Inc., AccountStaff, Inc., AllTek Staffing & Resource Group, Inc., and Sterling Office Professionals LLC (collectively, “TOPS Staffing”) are writing to inform you of a recent data security incident that may have resulted in an unauthorized access of your sensitive personal information. While TOPS Staffing is unaware of any fraudulent misuse of your personal information at this time, TOPS Staffing is providing you with details about the event, steps that TOPS Staffing is taking in response, and resources available to help you protect against the potential misuse of your information.
Between June 7, 2021 and June 13, 2021, TOPS Staffing discovered that an unauthorized individual accessed and encrypted its computer environment. Upon detecting the unauthorized access, TOPS Staffing immediately terminated the unauthorized access, and promptly started an investigation to obtain contact information of the potentially affected individuals. TOPS Staffing promptly engaged a team of cyber security professionals to assist with the recovery of its business services, and to conduct a forensic investigation to fully determine the scope and the overall impact of the incident. The investigation was unable to rule out that sensitive personal information from its systems may have been accessed by an unauthorized actor, so TOPS Staffing started an internal investigation to determine what personally identifiable information may have been impacted. The internal investigation concluded on October 5, 2021, and revealed that your information has been potentially impacted by this incident. This investigation was necessary to provide accurate information and notice the potentially impacted individuals. To date, TOPS Staffing has no reason to believe that there was a misuse of the information pertaining to the potentially impacted individuals.
What Information Was Involved?
Based on the investigation, the unauthorized individual may have had access to one or more of the following data elements pertaining to TOPS Staffing employees: names, Social Security numbers, tax ID numbers, driver’s licenses/state-issued identification card numbers, passport numbers, military identification numbers and financial account numbers. Please note, however, that since becoming aware of this incident, TOPS Staffing has received no indication that your information has been used by the unauthorized actor or by any unauthorized party to commit fraud. TOPS Staffing provided notice of this incident to you out of an abundance of caution.
What We Are Doing
TOPS Staffing values the privacy of your information and will continue to do everything it can to protect it. Upon detecting this incident, TOPS Staffing promptly engaged an independent firm to conduct an investigation of the incident. Since the incident, TOPS Staffing has greatly enhanced its security, including changing passwords and installing additional security on its systems. Out of an abundance of caution, TOPS Staffing is also providing you with 12 months of complimentary credit monitoring services. While TOPS Staffing is covering the cost of these services, you will need to complete the activation process by following the instructions included in the enclosed Steps You Can Take to Help Protect Your Information.
What You Can Do
TOPS Staffing encourages you to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review your account statements, and to monitor your credit reports for suspicious or unauthorized activity.
Additionally, please review the enclosed Steps You Can Take to Help Protect Your Information to learn more about how to protect against the possibility of information misuse. There, you will also find more information about the credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services that TOPS Staffing is offering to you, and how to activate. Again, TOPS Staffing is making these services available to you at no cost; however, you will need to activate yourself in these services. The deadline to activate is <>.
TOPS Staffing would like to reiterate that, at this time, there is no evidence that your information was misused. However, TOPS Staffing encourages you to take full advantage of the services offered and to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud. Such vigilance includes reviewing account statements and credit reports for suspicious activity.
For More Information:
The protection of your information is a top priority, and TOPS Staffing sincerely regrets any concern or inconvenience that this matter may cause. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call 1-???-???-????, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Central Time, excluding major U.S. holidays.