Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

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katnok
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Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by katnok »

Posting for someone else.

An immigration lawyer has disclosed personal info of a wife and husband, including DOBs and SSNs to someone who the lawyer claims to be a previous client. The lawyer has apologized and said the said client has been asked to delete the info. The couple have since contacted the three credit agencies and froze their credit.

What else should they do?

Thanks in advance.
Bacchus01
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Bacchus01 »

katnok wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:52 pm Posting for someone else.

An immigration lawyer has disclosed personal info of a wife and husband, including DOBs and SSNs to someone who the lawyer claims to be a previous client. The lawyer has apologized and said the said client has been asked to delete the info. The couple have since contacted the three credit agencies and froze their credit.

What else should they do?

Thanks in advance.
They should contac the state board.
Chicago60
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Chicago60 »

I'd want to know what were the specific circumstances that the inadvertent disclosure was made, and how did the clients find out.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Epsilon Delta »

DOB and SSN are already effectively public information. Unless the person who learned them is a known bad actor, or unless more significant information was leaked, the leak does not noticeable increase your risk and does not justify any precautions you were not already taking.
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Nate79
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Nate79 »

Clark Howard recently reported that the value on the market for SS is only a few cents because they are so widely available. The market value for a specific persons SS is only a few dollars. This information is so easily available I think beyond freezing credit I wouldn't worry about it.
Last edited by Nate79 on Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Finridge
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Finridge »

Chicago60 wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:54 pm I'd want to know what were the specific circumstances that the inadvertent disclosure was made, and how did the clients find out.
This.Also especially want to make sure that the lawyer followed up by personally spoke to the former client about it and confirmed that they did indeed delete the information. Also, you want to ask the lawyer whether he/she considers them to be to honest trustworthy people. If I was able to confirm both of these, and if the attorney seemed appropriate contrite and otherwise OK, I would not be overly worried and I would not file any complaints against him/her.

In the past, I'd have requested the attorney provide some compensation for the funds that would be necessary to cover the credit freezes/unfreezes. But under the new laws this is free, and everyone should be doing it anyway. Chances are that your information has already been hacked at least once and that is exponentially more dangerous than the inadvertent disclosure to a single random client.
Luckywon
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Luckywon »

This sounds to me like an honest mistake with minimal consequences. As stated, information such as DOB and SSN are widely disseminated. If you have ever been to the doctor or hospital, opened a bank account or conducted any major financial transaction, a very large number of strangers have had the opportunity to take note of these and more. I don't think this event requires any action be taken, though I do think freezing credit is prudent in general for anyone.

It sounds like the attorney was proactive and transparent after his error. I would be satisfied with that and not take it any further. Perhaps the attorney will appreciate it and take extra care to provide the best service going forward.
Chicago60
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Chicago60 »

Luckywon wrote: Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:20 am This sounds to me like an honest mistake with minimal consequences.

It sounds like the attorney was proactive and transparent after his error.
Respectfully, I see nothing in the post to suggest your inference has any basis in fact (other than the fact that the attorney disclosed the disclosure). You might be right, but as I noted above, I'd want to make the inquiries I stated, and follow up with other questions based on the answers to those, to see what really happened. More information from the lawyer is needed to make a reasoned decision on how to proceed....in my opinion.
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katnok
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by katnok »

Chicago60 wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:54 pm I'd want to know what were the specific circumstances that the inadvertent disclosure was made, and how did the clients find out.
It's not exactly clear how this happened, but was told that the lawyer used wrong email ID while responding to the client's original email with all documents attached to it. This doesn't completely make sense, but that's what I have been told.
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katnok
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by katnok »

Finridge wrote: Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:16 am
Chicago60 wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:54 pm I'd want to know what were the specific circumstances that the inadvertent disclosure was made, and how did the clients find out.
This.Also especially want to make sure that the lawyer followed up by personally spoke to the former client about it and confirmed that they did indeed delete the information. Also, you want to ask the lawyer whether he/she considers them to be to honest trustworthy people. If I was able to confirm both of these, and if the attorney seemed appropriate contrite and otherwise OK, I would not be overly worried and I would not file any complaints against him/her.

In the past, I'd have requested the attorney provide some compensation for the funds that would be necessary to cover the credit freezes/unfreezes. But under the new laws this is free, and everyone should be doing it anyway. Chances are that your information has already been hacked at least once and that is exponentially more dangerous than the inadvertent disclosure to a single random client.
This has been asked and the previous client the info was disclosed to is a "professional".
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

katnok wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:52 pm Posting for someone else.

An immigration lawyer has disclosed personal info of a wife and husband, including DOBs and SSNs to someone who the lawyer claims to be a previous client. The lawyer has apologized and said the said client has been asked to delete the info. The couple have since contacted the three credit agencies and froze their credit.

What else should they do?

Thanks in advance.
Report the lawyer to the state licensing board for violating private client information/privilege without the express written consent of the client.

Or, ask the attorney to have the recipient of the disclosed data to sign a document indicating they have indeed destroyed the confidential information and will not use it for any purpose without the express written consent of those individuals. Good Luck obtaining such a document, but if you do manage to get such a document that should provide some comfort. I would then not report the attorney to state board.
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (lawyer).
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J295
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by J295 »

My date of birth and social security number are probably in dozens, if not hundreds of places. In a number of instances, they have been with companies whose data has been compromised. Personally, I don’t lose a wink of sleep over it.
bgf
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by bgf »

this happens in every deposition. name, past names, dob, and ssn. attorneys hear it, court reporter hears it, other parties hear it, etc.
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TravelGeek
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by TravelGeek »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:10 pm Or, ask the attorney to have the recipient of the disclosed data to sign a document indicating they have indeed destroyed the confidential information and will not use it for any purpose without the express written consent of those individuals. Good Luck obtaining such a document, but if you do manage to get such a document that should provide some comfort. I would then not report the attorney to state board.
What if the recipient is simply not interested in signing any legal document? After all, what is it for them - for all I know I would need a lawyer to review that document to make sure I am not inadvertently making a false statement (e.g., what if I hit what I think is Delete and Gmail really archives that email... )

If it really was just SSN and DOB that was exposed, I wouldn’t be too worried. Immigration paperwork often contains other perhaps more “interesting” information, though. But immigration lawyers tend to be specialists and it is unlikely that the previous client was helped with, say, an identity theft charge.

Reporting the attorney to the state board might also mean having to find a new attorney.

I’d probably discuss the issue and try to find the root cause for the mistake and what lessons have learned/measures have been taken to prevent this from happening again. Email may not be the best mechanism to transmit confidential information.

I get a lot of misdirected emails to my personal domain because some company uses a similar name. B2B stuff. Initially I responded to the senders with an explanation. No one ever bothered to thank me. Now I just delete them.

I always laugh when I get an email that has a footer telling me the message is confidential, and if I am not the intended recipient, I am required to delete all copies. Required by what? You shove something in my inbox and then want to tell me what to do with it? (I do delete misdirected emails... mostly because I am a nice enough guy who would do that without that footer instruction).
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

TravelGeek wrote: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:19 pm
Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:10 pm Or, ask the attorney to have the recipient of the disclosed data to sign a document indicating they have indeed destroyed the confidential information and will not use it for any purpose without the express written consent of those individuals. Good Luck obtaining such a document, but if you do manage to get such a document that should provide some comfort. I would then not report the attorney to state board.
What if the recipient is simply not interested in signing any legal document? After all, what in it for them - for all I know I would need a lawyer to review that document to make sure I am not inadvertently making a false statement (e.g., what if I hit what I think is Delete and Gmail really archives that email... )

If it really was just SSN and DOB that was exposed, I wouldn’t be too worried. Immigration paperwork often contains other perhaps more “interesting” information, though.

Reporting the attorney to the state board might also mean having to find a new attorney.

I’d probably discuss the issue and try to find the root cause for the mistake and what lessons have learned/measures have been taken to prevent this from happening again. Email may not be the best mechanism to transmit confidential information.

I always laugh when I get an email that has a footer telling me the message is confidential, and if I am not the intended recipient, I am required to delete all copies. Required by what? You shove something in my inbox and then want to tell me what to do with it? (I do delete misdirected emails... mostly because I am a nice enough guy who would do that without that footer instruction).
What part of "Good Luck obtaining such a document" isn't understood. It's sort of tongue in cheek because as you say "what if the recipient isn't interested or willing to sign any such legal document? What doesn't worry you may worry others and vice versa. I laugh when someone calls themselves a professional (this lawyer for instance) and then makes careless errors such as this. Of course, it's a mistake, but when you are tasked with confidential information, you should have various controls in place to minimize such errors. Offering that the information went to a "professional" who has said verbally they will not do anything with it and had destroyed the data, it's worth zip. Having to find a new lawyer? As if there aren't other competent immigration attorneys out there? Why would a client continue to have confidence in their counsel, especially when it seems that counsel is not that good at crossing the t's and dotting the i's before completing the assignment they've been tasked with?
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J295
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by J295 »

Grt2bOutdoors ... pretty harsh. Never had a typo?
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Artsdoctor
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by Artsdoctor »

katnok wrote: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:52 pm Posting for someone else.

An immigration lawyer has disclosed personal info of a wife and husband, including DOBs and SSNs to someone who the lawyer claims to be a previous client. The lawyer has apologized and said the said client has been asked to delete the info. The couple have since contacted the three credit agencies and froze their credit.

What else should they do?

Thanks in advance.
I think I'm going to have to disagree with the majority of posts above. It makes no difference if SSNs and DOBs can be bought on the underground market when deciding how to move forward. The attorney clearly failed to meet the most basic definition of standard of care, which is defined as "failing to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession." Meaning, keeping client information confidential. I realize that the medical profession is held to a different standard than the legal profession (if we were to inadvertently send confidential patient information somewhere by mistake, that mistake could be determined to be a felony and fines can be in the tens of thousands of dollars--if not more).

If the clients are in a position to do so, they should go elsewhere. They should find out exactly who received the information, how it happened, verify that the information has been destroyed, and find out what the office has done to rectify such a breach. While one simple mistake may occur, it can also be an indication that the office is just plain sloppy and has had breaches in the past. If there are financial constraints, the clients can meet with the attorney and explain that their trust has been eroded irreparably, and that they feel they must go elsewhere, and that they are not in a position to start over financially; although they appreciate the time that has been put in, they expect a refund of all monies spent. If they had the time to spare, and if they could afford to start over, they could notify the bar if the attorney failed to refund money. This has clearly been a serious breach.

Unfortunately, they may not have the time or the money to move on to a different attorney. Freezing their credit is fine, but the only thing I can think of doing is just hoping that the attorney will do an adequate job going forward. They can try sitting down with him and saying how disappointed they are--and saying they are hopeful that he will take an extra interest in moving their case forward. They can try to find out what steps the office has taken to assure this will not happen again.
toofache32
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Re: Inadvertent disclosure of personal info by a lawyer

Post by toofache32 »

I have often wondered why there is no HIPAA equilavent for attorneys.
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