Jim Koons Automotive Company, a well-established network of car dealerships in this region, currently is working to resolve the impact of a reportedly major data breach. This incident provides important lessons for businesses and consumers alike regarding the challenges associated with effective management of consumer data and appropriate responses to data security breaches. Alliance Law Group can help businesses of all sizes to manage sensitive data effectively and to respond appropriately in the event of security breaches. Alliance Law Group also can help individual consumers who are affected by data security breaches to protect their rights and interests.

According to public reports, Koons first noticed potentially suspicious computer activity during the summer of 2021. The company consulted with forensic computer specialists and ultimately concluded that their customer databases may have been compromised.  In January 2022, the company formally provided written notice to its customers alerting them to the likelihood that more then 114,000 personal customer records, including personal financial information, may have been improperly accessed by an unauthorized outside party. Koons offered to provide free credit monitoring and encouraged its customers to monitor their credit records and financial activity carefully.

The Koons experience demonstrates the importance of all businesses having a plan for responding to data security breaches. That plan should be consistent with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements, as well as with best practices for the business’s industry. The plan should address a variety of topics including the need to identify breaches, stop the breaches, investigate the scope and impact of the breaches, and provide notice and assistance to all parties affected by the breaches (including such written notice as may be appropriate and access to free credit monitoring). The plan should also anticipate consultation with forensic information technology experts to understand and remedy the breach, and cooperation with law enforcement authorities to investigate the breach.  Finally, the plan should include mechanisms to apply information learned from the breach to improve the future quality of the company’s data security and information privacy measures.

The Koons case also highlights the need for consumers to be prepared to respond to data breaches.  When written notice of a breach is provided, consumers should carefully read and preserve the notice documents and make those documents part of their financial records. Consumers should carefully consider and evaluate the assistance offered by the affected business, including free credit monitoring services, and should use that assistance to help them track carefully their credit and financial records. Consumers affected by data breaches should diligently monitor their financial accounts looking for suspicious activity. Finally, consumers should monitor all communications they receive from the affected business and all relevant news reports to understand how the breach actually happened and to ensure that all parties involved have acted, and will continue to act, reasonably and responsibly to keep the data secure.

Alliance Law Group will work with businesses to develop, implement, and maintain effective data security and information privacy measures, and to respond appropriately in the event that a data breach occurs.  Alliance Law Group also can assist individual consumers to protect their personal information and to enforce their privacy rights. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding data security and information privacy. We will be happy to assist you in evaluating and implementing your legal rights and responsibilities.

*This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Individual facts and circumstances vary. Accordingly, please consult Alliance Law Group or other legal counsel for issues with respect to your legal rights and responsibilities concerning data breaches.