Today, June 8, 2005, a City of Trenton police officer residing in Browns Mills, New Jersey and an Egg Harbor, NJ resident initiated a class action lawsuit against Wachovia for damages resulting from the ID theft due to negligent handling of customer files. This complaint was filed in Atlantic County, New Jersey by co-counsel law firms Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman (Princeton, Mount Holly and Nutley, NJ) and Lyncy Keefe Bartels (Shrewsbury, NJ). Earlier, on June 1, 2005, the two law firms filed a similar class action lawsuit against Bank of America in Mercer County, New Jersey.
(PRWEB) June 10, 2005 -- The New Jersey law firms of Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman and Lynch Keefe Bartels filed a class action complaint against Wachovia today in New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Atlantic County, on behalf of Egg Harbor (Atlantic county) resident Maritza Mercado and Browns Mills (Burlington county) resident Shonda Hayes. Ms. Hayes also happens to be a City of Trenton police officer.
Ms. Mercado and Officer Hayes intend to seek class action status to represent other New Jersey identity theft victims against financial services giant Wachovia for damages resulting from the theft of tens of thousands of customer information files, including their own.
Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman, with offices in Princeton, Mount Holly and Nutley NJ, and Lynch Keefe Bartels, with offices in Shrewsbury, New Jersey will serve as co-counsel in this matter and seek class action status by the Court.
Financial services institutions, like Wachovia and Bank of America, need to understand that the financial cost of negligently handling customers data is greater than the financial savings of not investing in all possible means of protecting customer data, asserts Arthur Penn, Esq., a partner and mass torts and class action litigation attorney at the New Jersey law firm of Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman. These class action litigations will help correct their cost-benefit equations to recognize that an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Bank customers are frightened, both those who have and those who have not received a notification letter, explains John Keefe, Jr., Esq., a partner and New Jersey mass torts and class action litigation attorney at Lynch Keefe Bartels. Customers wonder whether they might have missed the banks notification letter or might yet receive one. Police indicate they may not have found yet all the missing names and the extent of the criminal actions on those they have found. Customers are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Ms. Mercado and Officer Hayes, customers of Wachovia, were informed that their personal financial information, including their Social Security number, were found in the possession of individuals arrested by Hackensack, New Jersey police in the growing scandal. Of immediate concern to her attorneys, are potential unauthorized use of Ms. Mercado and Officer Hayes identity between the times of the theft and the arrests, the need (and cost) to carefully monitor Ms. Jones credit reports for unauthorized activity during the next several years, and the availability of Ms. Mercado and Officer Hayes identity for their own use.
Hackensack, New Jersey police announced that more than 676,000 customers were affected when bank employees illegally sold information on more than 1 million accounts from 4 financial services companies: Bank of America, Wachovia, PNC and Commerce Bank. Police first announced arrests of 9 people, including 7 current and former bank employees, on Monday, May 23, 2005.
Wachovia has notified 48,000 customers, reported CNN Money in Bank Security Breach May Be Biggest Yet, May 23, 2005, 4:19 PM. Two former Wachovia employees have been charged in the case.
Wachovia said it has identified 48,000 current and former account holders whose accounts may have been breached. reported the Associated Press in Banks Notify Customers of Data Theft by Paul Nowell, May 23, 2005.
The numbers have increased as we continue to receive additional names from the police, Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips said Monday, as quoted in the Associated Press report cited above.
Reports of lax handling and rampant selling of confidential and personal customer financial information increasingly blankets the press. Epidemic demand for stolen identities appears to have been met by easy availability.
According to a news story carried by several New Jersey newspapers, Protecting Your Privacy by Ellen Simon of the Associated Press (May 24, 2005) highlighted examples of problems confronting and solutions available financial services companies, based on interviews computer security professionals who spoke of relatively inexpensive prevention steps, such as: Monitored internal audit trails, restricting data access, limiting data collection, basic encryption, secure shipping, and simple background checks. The experts also raised corporate management hurdles security measure confront, like low priority and cost-benefit perceptions.