Data Breach Alert: Biersch Inc. d/b/a Universal Industries, Inc. – JD Supra

data-breach-alert:-biersch-inc-d/b/a-universal-industries,-inc.-–-jd-supra

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Recently, Biersch Inc. d/b/a Universal Industries, Inc. confirmed a data breach stemming from unauthorized access to the company’s computer network. On April 1, 2022, Universal Industries sent out data breach notification letters to affected parties.

If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk.

“I speak to data breach victims almost every day, and many don’t fully grasp the impact a breach can have,” attorney Richard P. Console, Jr. said. “Once your sensitive personal data falls into the hands of cybercriminals, you have a much higher risk of identity theft for the rest of your life. If a company allows your personal data to be stolen, holding that company accountable through a class action lawsuit may be the only way to obtain fair compensation and to send a message to other companies to be more careful.”

On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, incur credit damage, discover loans taken out in their name without their knowledge, and may even end up with a criminal record for crimes they did not commit. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.

What We Know So Far About the Biersch Inc. Data Breach

According to an official filing by the company, on October 2, 2021, Universal Industries detected unusual activity on some of the company’s computer systems. In response, the company investigated the incident, learning that between September 29, 2021 and October 2, 2021, certain data was accessed and viewed by an unauthorized party.

Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, Biersch Inc. then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised. The company completed its review of the affected files on March 22, 2022.

On April 1, 2022, Biersch Inc. began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.

Biersch Inc. owns and operates the business more commonly referred to as Universal Industries, Inc. Universal Industries manufacturers equipment for the material handling industry, such as various types of conveyor belts and material elevators. The company is based in Cedar Falls, Iowa and employs approximately 82 people. Universal Industries generates roughly $16 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 Universal Industries, 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 Biersch Inc. data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Universal Industries are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Universal Industries 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 Universal Industries Data Breach?

When customers decided to do business with Universal Industries, 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 Biersch Inc. 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 Universal Industries 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 Biersch Inc., reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.

What Should You Do if You Receive a Biersch Inc. Data Breach Notification?

If Biersch Inc. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 Biersch Inc. d/b/a Universal Industries, Inc.:

Dear [Consumer],

Biersch Inc. d/b/a Universal Industries, Inc. (“Universal”) writes to notify you about a recent event that may involve some of your information. This notice provides you with information about the event, our response, and additional steps you may take to protect your information, should you determine it is appropriate to do so.

What Happened? On October 2, 2021, we identified unusual activity on certain company computer systems. We quickly disconnected these systems from the network and commenced an extensive investigation to determine the nature and scope of the activity. We also promptly reported this event to federal law enforcement. Through the investigation, we determined that an unknown actor gained access to certain systems between September 29, 2021 and October 2, 2021 and certain data was viewed or downloaded.

We then worked with data specialists to conduct a comprehensive review of information stored on the impacted systems to determine what information, if any, was affected and to whom the information related. We then conducted a manual review of our records to determine the identities and contact information for potentially impacted individuals. On or around March 22, 2022, we completed our review.

What Information Was Involved? Our review determined that the following types of information were present in the affected systems and could have been impacted by the unknown actor: your name, [Extra2].

What We Are Doing. We take this event and the security of personal information entrusted to us very seriously. Upon learning of the event, we took immediate steps to secure our environment and investigate the activity. As an added precaution, we are offering you complimentary access to twenty-four (24) months of credit monitoring and identity restoration services, through Experian. If you wish to avail yourself of these services, you will need to enroll using the instruction enclosed with this letter, as we are unable to activate them on your behalf.

What You Can Do. Universal encourages you to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud and to review your account statements and monitor your free credit reports for suspicious activity and to detect errors. We also encourage you to review the enclosed Steps You Can Take to Protect Personal Information, which contains information on what you can do to safeguard against possible misuse of your information. You may also enroll in the complimentary credit monitoring services we are offering to you.

For More Information. If you have additional questions, you may call our toll-free dedicated assistance line at 1-(855) 252-2731, available Monday through Friday from 8 am - 10 pm Central, or Saturday and Sunday from 10 am - 7 pm Central (excluding major U.S. holidays). You may also write to Universal at 5800 Nordic Drive, Cedar Falls, IA 50613.

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