Universal Credit Data Breach Guide – Can I Claim Compensation?
Should a Universal Credit data breach occur, you may be wondering what steps you could take should your personal data be involved. The Department for Work and Pensions are the overall body responsible for overseeing Universal Credit. As they state why personal data should be collected and how it will be processed under data protection law, they are known as data controllers. Data controllers, therefore, have an obligation to ensure that any personal data they handle is kept secure.
In this guide, we will explore what non-material and material damage is within data breach compensation claims. Furthermore, we will look at whether you will need to go to court to make a claim and whether you are eligible to make a claim.
Additionally, if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact our team. Our advisors are available to help you with your queries 24 hours a day.
Contact us now.
Select A Section
- How Could A Universal Credit Data Breach Occur?
- Can I Be Compensated If A Universal Credit Data Breach Took Place?
- Will I Need To Go To Court To Make A Claim?
- What Are Non-Material And Material Damage?
- What Could You Claim If Affected By A Data Breach?
- Talk To Our Team
A personal data breach is a security incident that affects the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of someone’s personal data. Cyber and non-cyber incidents can cause personal data breaches.
Personal data is information that can identify you directly or in combination with other information, such as your name, address, and mobile number.
If a Universal Credit data breach ever occurred, it could be caused by human error or a cyber attack. Below are some examples of how your personal data could be breached.
- Lost or Stolen Devices – USBs, computers, laptops, and work iPhones all may contain personal data of a client and therefore should be kept secure at all times.
- Poor administrative process – filing cabinets may be left unlocked, computer screens facing public access or no password protection on computers.
- Misdelivery of data – Your personal data is delivered to the wrong person. This could be via a letter sent to the wrong postal address or an email sent to the wrong email address.
The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 outline the obligations expected of data controllers and processors for processing the personal data of UK citizens. The UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) are the key data protection legislations data controllers, and processors should abide by.
Data controllers and processors are responsible for protecting your personal data. How your data is processed is decided by data controllers, whereas data processors can act on behalf of a data controller.
Within the UK GDPR, the personal data breach compensation eligibility criteria are set;
- Firstly, the data controller or processors must have failed in their obligations.
- Secondly, your personal data must have been breached,
- And lastly, you must have suffered either mental harm or financial loss.
Contact our advisors if a Universal Credit data breach takes place they will be able to provide you with free legal advice.
Per data protection law, you have the right to take your case to court to enforce your rights if you believe they have been breached. Additionally, you have the right to take your case to court to claim compensation for any financial damages and psychological injuries that have occurred due to a data breach.
However, only a small number of cases will need to be taken to court this is because most claims are settled before they see the inside of a courtroom.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the independent public body responsible for overseeing data protection laws. They can investigate data breaches and breaches of the law, but they cannot award you compenstaion. To do that, you may need to take legal action, such as a personal data breach claim.
Our panel of solicitors could provide you with legal representation. Contact our advisors for more information.
Material damage seeks to compensate for financial losses suffered due to the data breach. For example:
- Your banking details are compromised in a data breach. This results in money being drained from your account.
- Your credit card information is breached, resulting in charges being made on the card that were not made by you.
Material damage seeks to compensate for this type of loss. Keeping a financial record of these losses will help you in your claim.
Furthermore, non-material damage seeks to compensate for the psychological injuries you have endured due to a personal data breach. This could be anything from anxiety, depression and PTSD, and it could cause symptoms such as lack of sleep, loss of appetite and stress.
- Your home address is leaked in the data breach. You are now constantly anxious that someone you don’t know may arrive at your home.
- Your mobile number is compromised in a data breach, resulting in you constantly receiving calls from unknown numbers, which makes you very distressed.
Having a medical record showing this mental distress will help you in your claim.
If you have evidence of the effects of a personal data breach that compromised your personal data, you could claim for non-material and material damage.
As stated previously, material damage is any financial loss you’ve suffered due to the data breach. Whereas non-material damage is any psychological injuries, you’ve suffered due to the data breach.
Furthermore, if you wanted to claim for non-material damage, you would previously have to prove you also suffered financially. However, the Court of Appeal decided in the Vidal-Hall and Others v Google Inc (2015) case that you could now claim non-material damage without claiming for any financial losses.
Below we have included some compensation brackets. These figures align with the latest edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) published in April 2022, which solicitors often use to value claims. Please only use this table as a guideline.
|Psychiatric Damage Generally (PD)||Severe - There will be serious problems coping with life (such as work and education) and the person will encounter extreme future vulnerability.||£54,830 - £115,730|
|PD||Moderately Severe - There will be problems coping with aspects of life and the person will encounter future vulnerability. But there is a chance of a more optimistic diagnosis.||£19,070 - £54,830|
|PD||Moderate - There will be a struggle to cope with work/life/education. However, the person will have marked improvements.||£5,860 - £19,070|
|PD||Less Severe - The amount awarded is dependent on the damage period and the extent to which daily activities and sleep were affected.||£1,540 - £5,860|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Severe - There will be permanent effects. This will stop the person from working and functioning the same as they did pre-diagnosis.||£59,860 - £100,670|
|PTSD||Moderately Severe - There will be a better prognosis. There will be potential for some recovery with professional help. But, the person will still have a significant disability for a period of time.||£23,150 - £59,860|
|PTSD||Moderate - A large recovery will have taken place. Persisting symptoms won’t be significantly disabling.||£8,180 - £23,150|
|PTSD||Less Severe - There will be an expected full recovery within 1 to 2 years. After this period, only minor symptoms will continue.||£3,950 - £8,180|
If a Universal Credit data breach were to occur, our team of advisors could answer any questions you may have about the personal data breach compensation eligibility criteria.
A type of No Win No Fee agreement, called a Conditional Fee Agreement, might benefit you if you want to pursue a claim with legal representation. Many claimants opt for this arrangement because of its benefits, such as
- You are not obligated to pay for your solicitor’s services if your case is not successful.
- You will pay your solicitor a small success fee out of your compensation if your case is successful.
Additionally, you can contact our advisors following a Universal Credit data breach. They can provide you with free legal advice.
Contact us now.
Some additional helpful articles:
To learn more:
National Cyber Security Centre: Data breaches – guidance for individuals and families.
For any free advice about what to do should a Universal Credit data breach happen, speak with our advisors today.