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How Expert Witnesses Help in Unlawful Collection of Consumer Data Cases

Consumer data is available almost everywhere online. Anyone that visits almost any website leaves a trail of information in his or her wake. However, there are methods employed to collect these details that are considered illegal.

These are the crimes that some sustain when the information should be protected such as online transactions with credit cards, financial interactions and usernames and passwords used to log into websites. When this has been taken or stolen, the user is harmed in various manners. He or she may become a victim of identity theft, become targeted by extra marketing that is everywhere or the data may be exploited for phishing, spam and other internet crimes.

If a case arises that involves the unlawful collection of a person’s information, there usually needs to be an expert witness that has a background and expertise in computers, networking and data collection. This professional is necessary for hire by a lawyer for these claims because the judge or jury members generally would not understand the specifics of these events, and the incident would need to be
broken down so the average person with minimal computer skills could understand what happened, how it affected the individual and why compensation or another remedy is necessary. This significantly increases the odds of success in the court room.

Illegal Collection of Data

There are several schemes available in the country that end in a person’s personal details being copied, stolen or sold to a third-party. This even occurs on loan applications which may be sold to another company or individual that is looking for leads or sources for potential marketing. One particularly easy way to obtain these details is online through surveys or when an individual signs up for more information about something. The data is collected by the third-party and then either used by them or sold to another entity that may utilize it for spam, phishing or pharming attempts. This could lead to many persons becoming harmed economically due to opening or listening to junk email.

When negative consequences occur from checking email or receiving phone calls from these other parties or entities after filling out information online or in person, there are numerous complaints filed. When these are filed with the agencies with power, it is possible that regulations or laws are made to protect citizens from attacks such as these. Collection of consumer data may not be illegal, but there are laws that protect United States citizens from unlawful activity and economic loss due to these issues. Many of these websites or companies are disguised as legitimate organizations, and this is primarily how they accomplish unlawful actions against others.

Promises of Protected Data

Another reason why it may be easier to sue a company for stealing, copying or selling consumer data is when there is a promise either through a contract or online terms and conditions that the information will be protected from such actions. In this manner, the promise is considered a form of contract, and the company is bound legally by these terms. If these companies do not protect confidential and personal details such as credit card numbers, social security identity and bank accounts, they may face litigation. It is when the data has been shared or sold against the permission or without consent that any company may be liable for damages and could face criminal charges. It is vital that the victim of these incidents saves all information with the company so that action may be taken further if necessary.

Companies that provide these promises have been involved in settlements with the Federal Trade Commission and have been prohibited from any further assurances that personal and confidential information may be protected from third-party sales and situations where it may be sold. Transactions on websites and with personal applications filled out are no longer protected, and secured personal information may not be safeguarded from complications with theft, sale or being copied for future or further needs. Additionally, in order to disclose the data provided by the consumer, the companies and individuals performing these activities are required to obtain the express and informed consent of consumers before disclosure occurs.

Expert Witness Assistance

The expert witness may explain all these details to the victim, but he or she may also be used to provide testimony in court about why compensation is needed or a remedy to resolve the matter. Based on previous actions by the courts and the damages suffered, the expert is invaluable in these cases.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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