At Keller Lenkner UK, we are helping victims of the British Airways (BA) data breach to claim compensation after their personal information was put at risk by the airline. An organisation they trusted to look after it. But all too often, we hear accusations that the people trying to recover from the BA data breach are “trying to get something for nothing”.
However, data privacy breaches can have a severe and often lasting impact on those affected. As such, we believe it is vital that organisations like BA are held to account for their failure to protect our personal information. Brand loyalty is all well and good, but it is vital that we do not put the needs of big companies above the rights of customers.
The financial impact of cybercrime can be very harmful
Cybercrime can result in financial fraud and identity theft. And the result of either of these can be devastating. With enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts, and access your existing accounts.
Despite BA’s claims that it had not received any reports of fraud resulting from the attack, in November last year it was reported that Russian hackers might have made millions selling credit card details stolen from BA customers. And, even if nothing has been done with that information so far, it does not mean the stolen data is safe.
The impact and losses people sustain following a data privacy violation are not always immediately apparent, often because data stolen is used in batches over time. So, as yet it is impossible to say how many people have been impacted by the BA data breach, and to what extent.
Certainly, according to media reports, at least one BA customer is reported to have suffered fraudulent activity on their credit card, which was used to book a BA flight during the time the data was at risk.
Your mental health matters
Even if you have not lost out financially after a data breach, this does not mean that there is “no harm done.” Being the victim of a crime can have a sizable and lasting impact on you mentally and physically. Everyone copes differently, but for some the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect your friends, your family and your job. Some data breach victims become paranoid and oversensitive about their personal privacy and can go on to develop depression.
Thankfully, over the last few years, people are waking up to the reality of mental health, and there is a greater awareness about the lasting effects of physiological suffering and anguish.
“The effects of crime can also last for a long time, and it doesn’t depend on how ‘serious’ the crime was. Some people cope really well with the most horrific crimes while others can be very distressed by a more minor incident”.
Despite this, the emotional impact of data breaches is still not being taken seriously by those organisations we trust to look after our sensitive information. And we believe this to be true in this case.
Following the BA data breach, the airline said that compensation claims would be discussed on an ‘individual basis’. However, it is not up to the airline to dictate the terms of any compensation payments. And it is certainly not clear how (or indeed if) BA intended to evaluate the emotional impact the data breach had on its customers.
Loyalty works both ways
Should a data breach happen, we would expect the organisation in question to do everything in its power to keep its customers safe and prevent further damage. But this doesn’t seem to be the case following the BA data breach.
Some customers have complained that they were not contacted by British Airways about the data breach, despite having seen fraudulent activity on their payment cards. Others complained about BA advising customers to go to their bank for advice, rather than issuing its own instructions to help travellers stay protected.
Speaking to The Telegraph, one BA customer said: “I saw the tweet, that was the first I knew of it.” He added: “I’ve not heard anything from them on this and I’ve just had to cancel the card I used. They’re a shambles.”
Another customer said she had been left vulnerable after being forced to cancel her bank card while travelling alone in the middle of Vietnam. She tweeted that she was “furious” with the airline and that she only found out about the data breach from news; before BA had the decency to her that she was likely affected. She went on to tweet: “All companies have problems, some of them will affect their customers. That is a simple fact of business. How the company reacts, communicates & cares, is everything. British Airways are failing badly on this. I can’t even get a team manager in their call centre to call me.”
While another BA customer told the BBC: “I have six cards linked to my BA account. I have no idea how much of my data information has been stolen. I will have to go to each of my credit card providers, cancel the cards, and all the direct debits, etc., related to those cards. This will take a long time, something I have to do with no help from BA”.
Make a British Airways compensation claim with Keller Lenkner UK
If your data was put at risk in any of the British Airways data breaches, you might be able to make a compensation claim. Keller Lenkner UK has launched a British Airways Data Breach Group Action to help victims achieve justice.