Universal Credit Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?

This guide will explore the steps that could be taken should a Universal Credit data breach occur. 

universal credit data breach

Universal Credit Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?

As per the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA)  and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), data controllers and data processors have a responsibility to protect the personal data of those residing in the UK.

A data controller sets the purpose for processing personal data. They can also process this data themselves. Alternatively, they may outsource the processing to a data processor who acts on behalf of the controller.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upholds the rights and freedoms of data subjects. If there is a failure to adhere to data protection law by the processor or controller, the ICO can take enforcement action such as issuing fines. They can also investigate incidents where data protection law has been breached.

This guide will explore when a data breach could occur, how it could impact you and the steps you could take.

For more information, continue reading. Alternatively, please get in touch with our team using the details provided below:

  • Phone: 0161 696 9685
  • Website: Contact us through our website 
  • Live chat: Talk to an advisor about your claim using the feature below.

Select A Section

  1. Universal Credit Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?
  2. How Could A Personal Data Breach Happen?
  3. What Could You Do If A Universal Credit Data Breach Were To Occur?
  4. How Could You Be Impacted If A Universal Credit Data Breach Were To Occur?
  5. What Could You Claim If A Data Breach Affects You?
  6. Speak To Our Specialist Team

Universal Credit Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?

A personal data breach is a security incident leading to your personal data becoming lost, destroyed or altered. It can also lead to your personal data being accessed or disclosed without authorisation.

A breach of your personal data can impact you in several ways. Article 82 of the UK GDPR allows those who have been impacted by a personal data breach to seek compensation in certain instances.

In order to make a claim, you must be able to prove that an organisation’s failings led to your personal data becoming compromised and causing you losses of a financial nature or emotional harm.

You must also ensure you start your claim within the relevant time limits. Generally, you have 6 years to start a data breach claim. In cases where you are claiming against a public body, this is reduced to 1 year. 

How Could A Personal Data Breach Happen?

Personal data is any information that can be used to directly, or when processed alongside other information, identify you. This can include your name, email address, postal address, phone number and bank account details.

There is also a type of data that is afforded extra protection under data protection law because of it’s sensitive nature. This is known as special category data. This can include data relating to your health, data revealing your trade union membership, sexual orientation and your racial or ethnic origin.

There are several ways a breach could occur resulting in your personal data being compromised. Also, there are several types of data breaches, such as human error which can lead to an accidental data breach and cyber incidents. Examples can include:

  • An employee sends an email asking for confirmation of your bank account details to the wrong person.
  • A letter is sent to the wrong postal address containing sensitive information.
  • The organisation is subject to a cyber attack after failing to keep their cyber security systems up to date.
  • Your personal data could be compromised following lost records that were not adequately secured.
  • You are sent a text message containing someone else’s personal data.

To learn what steps you could take should a Universal Credit data breach occur, please get in touch using the number above.

How Often Do Government Data Breaches Happen?

According to the data security trends from the ICO, there were 32,541 incidents reported between Q2 of 2019 and Q2 of 2022.

Of these, 1,152 were reported in the central government sector and 2,925 were reported in the local government sector.

The incidents were both cyber and non-cyber and the nature of the incidents varied.

What Could You Do If A Universal Credit Data Breach Were To Occur?

There are certain steps that you could take should your personal data become affected.

Firstly, you can contact the organisation directly. However, if they don’t provide an adequate response or do not respond at all, you could raise your concern with the ICO.

The ICO cannot award compensation but they can investigate incidents and the findings from any investigation they do carry out can be used as evidence if you are eligible to make a claim. You could also use copies of any correspondence you have had with the organisation as evidence.

The organisation also has a responsibility to report the breach to the ICO within 72 hours if it has put your rights and freedoms at risks. They must also notify you of the breach without undue delay if your rights and freedoms have been put at risk.

For information on the steps you could take should a Universal Credit data breach occur, get in touch on the number above.

How Could You Be Impacted If A Universal Credit Data Breach Were To Occur?

A personal data breach can impact those involved both psychologically and financially. For example, if your bank account details are stolen, this could lead to you having money taken out of your account. It could also mean loans are taken out in your name resulting in a negative impact on your credit score.

The data breach could also cause several mental health problems. For example, you could experience stress due to the data breach, anxiety, distress or post-traumatic stress disorder in more severe cases.

In some instances, you may be able to seek compensation for the impact the breach has had on your life.

To learn what you could receive following a successful claim, please continue reading.

Alternatively, you can speak to our team to discuss the steps you could take should a Universal Credit data breach occur.

What Could You Claim If A Data Breach Affects You?

Data breach compensation can be awarded for material damage and non-material damage.

Material damage relates to the financial losses you have experienced due to the personal data breach. Evidence will be needed when claiming for these losses. This can include bank statements.  

Non-material damage relates to the emotional harm you have experienced due to the personal data breach. This head of claim is often valued by legal professionals with help from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG contains compensation brackets for different types of psychological injuries.

We have used these figures to create the table below. However, the figures are not necessarily reflective of the payout you will receive.

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Type of Harm Compensation Bracket (Guidelines) Notes
Psychological Harm: Severe £54,830 to £115,730 There are marked problems with the person’s ability to cope with life, education and work and there is an impact on their relationships. The prognosis is very poor.
Psychological Harm: Moderately Severe £19,070 to £54,830 The person experiences significant problems with different areas of their life including work and relationships. However, the person has a better prognosis than in more severe cases.
Psychological Harm: Moderate £5,860 to £19,070 The person has shown significant improvement after experiencing problems with different aspects of their life. They have a good prognosis.
Psychological Harm: Less Severe £1,540 to £5,860 How long and to what extent the person’s daily activities and sleep have been affected will be considered.
Anxiety Disorder: Severe £59,860 to £100,670 The person will experience a permanent and negative effect on all aspects of their life resulting in them being unable to function to the same level as they did before the trauma.
Anxiety Disorder: Moderately Severe £23,150 to £59,860 The person has a better prognosis but it is still likely that the effects will cause a disability of a significant nature.
Anxiety Disorder: Moderate £8,180 to £23,150 There has been some recovery achieved, however any continuing effects aren’t grossly disabling.
Anxiety Disorder: Less Severe £3,950 to £8,180 A mostly full recovery has been made within a period of one to two years.

To learn more about the compensation you could receive following a successful claim, please get in touch using the number above.

Speak To Our Specialist Team

A No Win No Fee arrangement provides a way for you to access the services of a solicitor. There are different types of these arrangements, including a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). 

Under a CFA, you can generally access your solicitor’s services without paying a fee upfront or while your claim proceeds. Typically, you also won’t be required to pay for their services if the claim fails.

If the claim is a success, your solicitor will take a success fee from your compensation. This is taken as a percentage which is capped by the law.

To learn more about working with a No Win No Fee solicitor offering their services on this basis, please get in touch with our team using the details provided below:

  • Phone: 0161 696 9685
  • Website: Contact us through our website 
  • Live chat: Talk to an advisor about your claim using the feature below.

Learn More About Personal Data Breaches

Below, you can find some more of our guides that you may find beneficial:

We’ve also gathered information from many sources, to help develop background information on your rights as a data subject. 

We hope this guide on the steps you can take should a Universal Credit data breach occur has helped. However, if you need any other information, please get in touch using the details provided above.

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