Recently, Ultimate Care, Inc. confirmed that several employee email accounts were accessed as the result of a phishing attack, resulting in the sensitive information pertaining to as many as 15,788 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 Ultimate Care 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 Ultimate Care. 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 Ultimate Care Data Breach
According to a notice posted on the company’s website, Ultimate Care discovered that an unauthorized party was able to gain access to certain employee email accounts through a phishing attack. In response, the company secured all affected email accounts and began investigating the incident. On December 23, 2021, Ultimate Care determined that the unauthorized party had access to the employees’ email accounts between April 7, 2021 and June 2, 2021.
Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, Ultimate Care then reviewed the files in each of the employees’ email accounts to determine what information was compromised. While the compromised information varies by consumer, it may include your full name, Social Security number, driver’s license number, passport number, date of birth, financial account information, credit or debit card information, medical information, health insurance policy information, and usernames and passwords.
On February 23, 2022, Ultimate Care began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.
Ultimate Care, Inc. is a provider of home healthcare services to residents of New York. The company is based in Brooklyn but also has offices in the Bronx and Queens. Ultimate Care provides its customers with a variety of services, including companion care, daily living assistance, personal hygiene care, and registered nursing care. The company currently employs approximately 500 people and generates over $1 million in annual revenue.
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 Ultimate Care, 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 an Ultimate Care data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Ultimate Care are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Ultimate Care 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 Ultimate Care Data Breach?
When individuals sought care for themselves or a loved one through Ultimate Care, 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 Ultimate Care 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 Ultimate Care 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 Ultimate Care, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive an Ultimate Care Data Breach Notification?
If Ultimate Care 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 notice posted on the Ultimate Care, Inc. website:
As a result of a phishing incident, an unauthorized party obtained access to a limited number of Ultimate Care employees’ email accounts. Upon learning of the issue, we immediately secured the accounts and commenced a prompt and thorough investigation. As part of our investigation, we have worked very closely with external cybersecurity and forensics professionals. After an extensive forensic investigation and manual email review, we determined on December 23, 2021 that the impacted email accounts, which were accessed between April 7, 2021 and June 2, 2021, contained a limited amount of personal information. The information included the affected individuals’ full names and one (1) or more of the following: Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, dates of birth, financial account information, credit or debit card information, medical information, health insurance policy information, and/or usernames and passwords.
We have no evidence that any information has been misused. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, we are providing written notification of this incident to the affected individuals for whom we have a last-known mailing address commencing on or about February 22, 2022. We are offering the affected individuals whose Social Security numbers were impacted complimentary one-year memberships with a credit monitoring service. We are advising the affected individuals about the process for placing fraud alerts and/or security freezes on their credit files and obtaining free credit reports. The affected individuals are also being provided with the contact information for the consumer reporting agencies and the Federal Trade Commission. The affected individuals whose medical and/or health insurance policy information was impacted are also being provided steps to take to safeguard themselves against medical identity theft.
Protecting the privacy of personal information is our top priority. We are committed to maintaining the privacy of personal information in our possession and have taken many precautions to safeguard it. We continually evaluate and modify our practices and internal controls to secure personal information.
Individuals with questions concerning this incident or those who would like to determine if they were impacted may call 855-604-1835 toll-free Monday through Friday from 9 am – 9 pm, Eastern Time.