PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — Two people whose personal information was compromised in a data breach at Rhode Island’s public bus service that affected about 22,000 people sued the agency and a health insurer on Tuesday to get damages and responses.
The class action lawsuit filed in Providence Superior Court by cooperating attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island names the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and United Healthcare as defendants.
The personal information of approximately 5,000 RIPTA employees and retirees and thousands of other current, former and retired government officials, including Social Security numbers and Medicare ID numbers, was hacked in August 2021 by an access unauthorized access to RIPTA’s computer system.
“When an individual’s confidential personal and health information is compromised, that individual will need to worry about the potential for identity theft which could lead to financial ruin by affecting their savings, livelihood, credit rating and his access to health care,” said ACLU attorney Peter Wasylyk. “It can cause significant stress for the rest of that individual’s life.”
The compromised information was provided by United, which previously administered the state employee health plan.
A RIPTA spokesperson said in an email that the agency had no comment. A message seeking comment was left with a United spokesperson.
Alexandra Morelli, who works for the state but has never worked for RIPTA, said the data breach led to fraudulent withdrawals totaling thousands of dollars from her personal bank account and the unauthorized use of her credit cards. credit, while trying to plan her wedding. .
She spent countless hours working with her bank, credit bureaus and law enforcement to try to protect her personal information.
“This whole experience has been and continues to be extremely frustrating and anxiety-provoking,” she said.
The lawsuit alleges negligence by the state agency and the insurer, as well as violations of two state laws designed to protect personal information.
The suit also seeks a court order requiring the defendants to step up their cybersecurity safeguards and answers to what it says are unanswered questions, such as why RIPTA had the information of people who did not work at the agency and why it took four months to alert the victims about the breach.