OAKLAND (CN) - Twenty-nine thousand Kaiser employees say the company did not inform them for more than a year about a security breach that left their personal information vulnerable to thieves. One employee says a woman stole her identity and used it to run up credit-card charges and "commit crimes across the country."
The class of employees and members of SEIU United Healthcare West, claims that Kaiser provided the union with their names, birthdates, addresses and Social Security numbers "in connection with remittance of union dues," but failed to encrypt the information, which was exposed when burglars broke into the UHW offices in July 2007 and made off with computer files.
Lead plaintiff Monica Saenz says she found out in October 2008 that her identity had been stolen. Saenz says her credit report showed that someone had withdrawn money from her bank account and had opened and run up charges on 10 credit cards. Saenz claims that a woman was using her identity to "commit crimes across the country."
The class claims that Kaiser did not notify its 29,000 employees that their records had been stolen until February 2009, and that it delayed for 19 months in order to "shift the burden" for the identity theft.
Kaiser offered its workers one free year of credit monitoring services from Equifax, compensation that the class says is inadequate, as "Kaiser's proposed remedy does not include compensation for any credit monitoring the class [was] required to purchase between July 2007 and February 2009 as a result of the breach." Nor has Kaiser compensated the class "for their actual damages arising out of actually having their identities stolen."
The class demands restitution and compensatory damages, including free credit monitoring and free identity theft insurance for 5 years. They are represented by Wayne Kreger with Milstein Adelman of Santa Monica.