How can a data breach affect you?

on 18 Nov 2020 | by Simon Chadwick

Imagine it’s a normal day. You’ve just got out of bed and are making your morning coffee when you casually check the news. You pause as the kettle brews and look at one of the headlines. There has been a massive data breach at a company that holds personal information about you. What does this mean for you?

Some data breaches are worse than others. In many instances the damage will be limited, but in some cases the repercussions may be disastrous. If it comes to making a claim, the impact (or potential impact) of the lost data will be considered with regard to the compensation you may receive. Here are some of the common worst case scenarios when data breaches occur:

Financial loss

Billions of pounds are lost every year to online fraud. For the victims, it can be devastating. You can take measures to protect yourself, like never giving out your bank information to anybody unless you are absolutely sure they’re legitimate – but even the most cautious person can’t do anything to stop that same legitimate company being hacked. Even though you will probably be able to get your money back from the bank eventually, you may incur problems paying bills and buying everyday essentials until you do.

Identity theft

If criminals get hold of your personal information, they can use it to impersonate you and open bank accounts, credit cards, loans, phone contracts and other things under your name. You may not even notice this until it’s been happening for a while. Sometimes it can be difficult to prove it wasn’t you. Your credit score may also be damaged, and as some extra salt in the wound, it may subsequently be harder for you to take out legitimate loans once you have a fraud warning on your account.

Privacy violations

Not all data is impersonal financial information. In fact, most of the data you generate, in the form of photos and private messages, says a huge amount about who you are as a person. Everybody has a right to privacy – that’s why we have blinds on windows and locks on bathrooms. When that data is lost, it may be seen by people it was not intended for. This can cause personal embarrassment, as well as more profound consequences for your career and your social life. Other particularly personal data, such as information about your medical conditions, could potentially be exposed in a data breach.

Stalking and harassment

One particularly unpleasant repercussion of having your information leaked online is that it could expose you to online (and sometimes offline) harassment. This can happen to anybody, although women are statistically more likely to be victims. People who have an online presence such as a YouTube channel or a popular Instagram are also particularly in danger of this. It could come from somebody you already know, or from total strangers. This could happen in several different ways, and can become very traumatising. You can report harassment to the police if it becomes serious.

Spam email and phone calls

Compared to the problems mentioned above, getting spam email may seem pretty trivial. However, we all know the frustration of wading through our inbox, trying to identify the legitimate correspondence among the dregs of marketing from companies we never heard of, but have somehow got our contact details. How often have you missed a legitimate email because it was filtered into junk, and you didn’t notice it in the midst of all the actual junk mail? And that’s to say nothing of phishing emails that come to us and pose a real threat. So even if a company “only” loses your email address in a data breach, that’s still unacceptable.


Above and beyond everything else, the real impact from data breaches is the anxiety from worrying about all of these potential problems. When you know your data is out there, possibly in the hands of somebody who wishes to harm or defraud or humiliate you, that’s a heavy mental load to bear. There may be unique circumstances to you that make a data breach particularly worrying. If you’ve been suffering from sleepless nights and have a pit of worry in your stomach over what might happen because an organisation lost your data, then now is the time to act. Make your claim today, and at least you may be able to rest a little easier knowing you’ve taken action. Winning some money may not solve your problems, but it will probably make enduring them a little easier.

23/10/2021 05:03:44