United Utilities Data Breach – Could I Make A Data Breach Claim?

United Utilities data breach claims guide

United Utilities Data Breach – Could I Make A Data Breach Claim?

This is an informative guide to the action you could potentially take should a United Utilities data breach occur and affect your personal information. As we go through this guide, we will discuss what a personal data breach is, what personal data can include and the laws that govern its processing.

When your personal data is compromised, it can cause you to suffer mentally, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, you could suffer from financial losses if credit or debit card details or bank account information is comprised.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body in the UK that is responsible for upholding information rights. They cannot award compensation for a personal data breach, however, they can take action when organisations fail to adhere to data protection laws.

Please continue reading this guide to learn what personal information is covered by data protection laws and the criteria that must be met in order for you to be eligible to make a data breach compensation claim. Furthermore, we will provide a table that contains guideline bracket compensation amounts for psychological injury.

Additionally, you can contact our team of advisors to make any enquiries you may have. They can provide free and confidential legal advice at a time that suits you, as they are available 24/7.

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United Utilities Data Breach – Could I Make A Data Breach Claim?

Firstly, we will discuss what personal data is and what is meant by a breach. Personal data is information that can be used either alongside other information or alone to identify you. Personal data breaches are broadly defined by the ICO as security incidents that affect the integrity, confidentiality or availability of personal data.

The two central pieces of legislation that set the rules and regulations for data protection:

Alongside one another, the UK GDPR and the DPA control the use and storage of personal data in both physical and digital forms. Additionally, they lay out rules that data controllers and processors must adhere to when handling personal data.

  • Data controller – They are in charge of the purpose and means of processing personal data.
  • Data processor – They act on the behalf of the controller, following their instructions.

Therefore, in order to pursue a valid personal data breach claim, the onus will be on you to prove that those who had a responsibility to keep your personal data safe in accordance with applicable laws failed in this regard. Following on from this, your personal data was compromised in a breach, and this will need to have caused you financial losses or distress.

How Could A Utility Company Data Breach Happen?

If your personal data is disclosed or accessed without authority, or it is stolen, destroyed, or lost accidentally or deliberately, then a data breach has occurred. Regardless of whether the data breach happened because of a deliberate action such as a cyber attack or it happened accidentally, you could still have the right to claim.

The two main ways a data breach can occur include:

Human error:

  • An employee sends a fax or email containing your personal data to the wrong number or email address.
  • A device containing your personal information is lost in a public place.
  • An employee sends a letter containing your personal details to the wrong postal address.

Deliberate actions:

  • A cyber hack.
  • A phishing scam.
  • Ransomware
  • Leaked data deliberately.

Utility Data Security Trends

Below we have provided ICO data security incident statistics reported to them from the utility sector. These figures are recorded by quarter and show the following:

  • Between Qtr 2 of 2019 and Qtr 2 of 2022, there were a total of 318 incidents reported.
  • 270 of these occurred due to non-cyber causes.
  • The remaining 48 occurred due to cyber causes.

What Data Could Be Held By A Utility Company?

A utility company may require you to provide them with personal information in order to use their services. Personal data that is covered by the UK GDPR includes:

These are just a few examples of the kinds of data a utility company might hold about you. If you suspect your personal data has been breached and, as a result, you are suffering harm, find out the action you can take in the next section.

Additionally, speak to one of our advisors for more information regarding what personal information is covered by the UK GDPR and the steps you could take should a potential United Utilities data breach occur.

What Steps Can I Take If A United Utilities Data Breach Were To Occur?

If a United Utilities data breach were to occur, which puts your rights and freedoms at risk, the ICO expects to be notified by the organisation within 72 hours from the time it was discovered. Also, an organisation should notify you of a breach involving your personal data without undue delay.

If you have been contacted regarding the occurrence of a data breach or you suspect that one has taken place, you could take the following action:

  • First, contact the organisation and ask for an explanation.
  • Then, if they do not respond in a satisfactory manner, you have the option to contact the ICO to make a complaint. Findings from the ICO can be used as evidence.
  • Finally, we also recommend that you speak to our team of advisors to learn whether you could make a valid data breach compensation claim.

To be eligible to claim for a personal data breach, a data controller or processor must have failed in their obligation to adhere to data protection laws and keep your information safe. Also, you must have suffered harm as a result. Please contact our advisors to find out whether you could have a valid claim.

Data Breach Compensation Calculator

There are two potential heads of a successful personal data breach compensation claim:

  • Material damage is the financial losses that you can be compensated for. This could include loss of earnings and money taken from your bank accounts.  Please note that you must provide evidence to prove material damage, such as bank records and payslips.
  • Non-material damage is the psychological injuries you have suffered due to the personal data breach.

The Vidal-Hall and Others v Google Inc [2015] Court of Appeal case changed the law’s position on awarding compensation for a personal data breach claim. This means that you can now claim for non-material damage whether you are or are not also claiming for material damage.

We have provided the table below as a guide to compensation amounts for different injuries using the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), updated in April 2022. Legal professionals, such as data breach solicitors, also use this document to help them value the non-material part of compensation settlements.

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Mental Injury Severity Notes Compensation Brackets
(a) Psychological Damage Generally Severe The injury would cause the person to have marked problems with their ability to cope with work, education and daily life. The prognosis for recovery will be very poor. £54,830 to £115,730
(b) Psychological Damage Generally Moderately Severe The injury would cause the person to have significant problems with their ability to cope with work, education and daily life. In contrast with the bracket above, there will be a much more optimistic prognosis. £19,070 to £54,830
(c) Psychological Damage Generally Moderate The injury will cause the same sort of problems as in the brackets above. However, the person’s prognosis is good and they will have markedly improved by trial. £5,860 to £19,070
(d) Psychological Damage Generally Less Severe The level of compensation will depend on the extent of harm suffered and for how long. £1,540 to £5,860
(a) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Severe The person may be unable to work and will not function at anything approaching the level that they did pre-trauma due to permanent effects caused by the injury. All aspects of their life are badly affected. £59,860 to £100,670
(b) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Moderately Severe The effects in this bracket will be similar to the bracket above, however, the person will have a better prognosis for some recovery by using a professional for help. £23,150 to £59,860
(c) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Moderate A large recovery will have been made by the injured person. There may be some continuing effects, however, these won’t be grossly disabling. £8,180 to £23,150
(d) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Less Severe The injured person will make a virtual full recovery during the range of 1 to 2 years following the incident. Any persisting symptoms will be minor. £3,950 to £8,180

The unique conditions of a claim determine the amount awarded. Therefore, you should speak to one of our advisors for a compensation estimate tailored to the details of your case.

Call For Free Advice Should A United Utilities Data Breach Occur

For an assessment of your claim, please speak to one of our advisors. If they determine that you could have a valid case, they may place you in contact with one of our solicitors, who could offer to handle your case under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), a type of No Win No Fee agreement. This means you would generally not pay fees for the services of a solicitor upfront, during the claim, or in the event the claim is unsuccessful.

On the other hand, in the event your claim resolves successfully, a No Win No Fee solicitor can generally take a small percentage of the compensation, which is legally capped. This is commonly known as a success fee.

Should a United Utilities data breach occur, causing you harm, please contact a member of our team.

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Data Breach Resources

Informative guides to data breach claims:

External links you may find useful:

b Thank you for reading this guide to potential steps you could take should a United Utilities data breach occur and affect your personal information.