Data Breach Alert: The Marker Group, Inc. | Console and Associates, PC – JDSupra – JD Supra

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On April 14, 2022, The Marker Group, Inc. filed official notice of a September 2021 data breach that compromised the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and protected health information of certain individuals.

If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk and what you can do about it. More about what you can do if your data was stolen is available in our prior blog post, "A Guide For Victims of a Data Breach”.

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 Marker Group Data Breach

According to a notice posted on the company’s website, on September 3, 2021, Marker Group learned of suspicious activity on some of its computer systems. In response, the company began an investigation into the incident to determine what, if any, consumer information was leaked. Around September 10, 2021, the Marker Group was able to confirm that an unauthorized party gained access to certain files containing sensitive consumer data.

Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, Marker Group then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised. This review was completed on December 13, 2021. While the compromised information varies based on the individual, it may include your name, date of birth, Social Security number and protected health information.

On December 30, 2021, Marker Group began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.

The Marker Group, Inc. provides litigation support services to attorneys and law firms nationwide. The company performs record collection, medical review, data analysis, and compliance reporting services on behalf of its clients. The Marker Group was founded in 1985 in Houston, Texas, where the company’s headquarters remains. The Marker Group employs more than 200 people and generates approximately $28 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 Marker Group, 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 Marker Group data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Marker Group are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Marker Group 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 Marker Group Data Breach?

When customers decided to do business with Marker Group, 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 Marker Group 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 Marker Group 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 Marker Group, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.

What Should You Do if You Receive a Marker Group Data Breach Notification?

If Marker Group 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 The Marker Group, Inc.:

Dear [Consumer],

The Marker Group announces a recent data privacy event involving information associated with past and ongoing litigation matters in the United States. To date, Marker Group has not received any reports of actual or attempted misuse of information as a result of this event. Nevertheless, Marker Group is providing notice of this incident to potentially impacted individuals out of an abundance of caution.

What Happened? On September 3, 2021, Marker Group discovered suspicious activity on certain systems in our computer network. As a result, we immediately worked to secure our environment and, with the assistance of third-party computer specialists, launched an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the activity. On or about September 10, 2021, the investigation determined that certain files on our systems may have been accessed by an unknown, unauthorized third party. We immediately began a review of the potentially impacted files and our internal systems to identify the information involved and to whom it related. Unfortunately, on December 13, 2021, we determined that certain files containing individuals’ information could have been accessed during the event. While there is no indication that any specific information was or will be misused, we are notifying all potentially impacted individuals out of an abundance of caution.

What Information was Involved? Our investigation determined that the following types of information may have been involved: name, date of birth, Social Security number, and/or various types of medical records containing treatment and insurance information.

What is Marker Group Doing? Marker Group takes the privacy and security of information in its care very seriously. In response to this incident, Marker Group took immediate steps to identify and address the security of its systems and to determine potentially impacted individuals. Marker Group is notifying potentially impacted individuals so that they may take steps to protect their information.

For More Information. If you believe you may have been impacted by this incident or have questions, you may contact Marker Group by phone at 855-604-1716.

What Potentially Affected Individuals Can Do? Individuals who believe they may be impacted by this event can contact Marker Group directly. Additionally, we encourage potentially impacted individuals to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud by reviewing their account statements and monitoring their Explanation of Benefits and free credit reports for suspicious activity and to detect errors. Please note that Under U.S. law, a consumer is entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. You may also directly contact the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below to request a free copy of your credit report.

Consumers have the right to place an initial or extended “fraud alert” on a credit file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-year alert that is placed on a consumer’s credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on a consumer’s credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the consumer’s identity before extending new credit. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is a fraud alert lasting seven years. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, please contact any one of the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below.

As an alternative to a fraud alert, consumers have the right to place a “credit freeze” on a credit report, which will prohibit a credit bureau from releasing information in the credit report without the consumer’s express authorization. The credit freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. However, you should be aware that using a credit freeze to take control over who gets access to the personal and financial information in your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit. Pursuant to federal law, you cannot be charged to place or lift a credit freeze on your credit report. To request a security freeze, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. Full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
  2. Social Security number;
  3. Date of birth;
  4. Addresses for the prior two to five years;
  5. Proof of current address, such as a current utility bill or telephone bill;
  6. A legible photocopy of a government-issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.); and
  7. A copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft if you are a victim of identity theft.

Should you wish to place a fraud alert or credit freeze, please contact the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below:

Equifax

https://www.equifax.com/personal/creditreport-services/

1-888-298-0045

Equifax Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30348-5069

Equifax Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

Experian

https://www.experian.com/help/ 1-888-397-3742

Experian Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

Experian Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion

https://www.transunion.com/credithelp

1-833-395-6938

TransUnion Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

TransUnion Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 160, Woodlyn, PA 19094

You may further educate yourself regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, credit freezes, and the steps you can take to protect your personal information by contacting the consumer reporting bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission, or your state Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission may be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580; www.identitytheft.gov; 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); and TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The Federal Trade Commission also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with them. You can obtain further information on how to file such a complaint by way of the contact information listed above. You have the right to file a police report if you ever experience identity theft or fraud. Please note that in order to file a report with law enforcement for identity theft, you will likely need to provide some proof that you have been a victim. Instances of known or suspected identity theft should also be reported to law enforcement and your state Attorney General. This notice has not been delayed by law enforcement.

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