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Posted On January 31, 2022 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches

Data Breach Alert: Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (FTC)

NOTICE: If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH letter from Farmers Telephone Cooperative, contact the attorneys at Console & Associates at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential Case Evaluation form here.


Data Breach Alert

January 31, 2022 – Recently, telecommunications company Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (“FTC”) filed official documents confirming the company experienced a “data security incident” impacting more than 8,000 people. According to the recent filing, on June 30, 2021, Farmers experienced a network disruption related to several of the company’s systems. In response, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, secured the network and launched an investigation.  On January 16, 2022, Farmers discovered the scope of the compromised data. Evidently, the breach resulted in the names and Social Security numbers of 8,099 people being compromised.

Cybersecurity events such as the Farmers Telephone Cooperative breach have been common over the past few years. In part, this is because the COVID-19 pandemic gave criminals many opportunities to conduct attacks against companies that were preoccupied dealing with other pandemic-related issues. Often, data breaches such as this one are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s computer systems to obtain sensitive consumer information. While no one will even know the reason Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. was the targeted in the recent cyberattack, it is not uncommon for hackers and other criminals to target those companies they believe have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.

Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove sensitive consumer data from the compromised servers. Often, a company will be able to identify which files were accessible; however, there may be no way of knowing whether the files were actually viewed by the hacker and whether they stole any of the data contained in those files.

The fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes. However, because a data breach puts consumer information in the hands of an unauthorized person, those affected by these breaches face an increased risk of identity theft and other financial losses. That said, criminal use of compromised data is a possibility that should not be ignored.

Given this reality,  and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity.  Businesses are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Farmers Telephone Cooperative mishandled your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.

Can Consumers Impacted by the Recent Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.  Data Breach Pursue Legal Action Against the Company?

When you decided to give Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. your business, you voluntarily gave the company your personal information.  In doing so, you trusted the company to keep your information secure. Certainly, anyone in your shoes would think that the company would safeguard their information. However, news of this data breach raises very real questions about the organization’s data security measures and whether more could have been done to prevent the breach.

All businesses have an ethical and legal obligation to ensure sensitive consumer information remains private. Of course, creating and maintaining a system to protect consumer data from the risk of a cybersecurity event comes at a significant expense; however, this is a necessary expense given the frequency with which cybersecurity events such as this one occurs.

While United States data breach laws allow consumers to sue companies for the misuse or negligent handling of their data, these laws are very complex. Additionally, details about the Farmers Telephone Cooperative data breach are still emerging. That being the case, as of right now there is no evidence suggesting Farmers Telephone Cooperative was responsible for the breach. However, that could change because our data breach attorneys are investigating the breach and its potential causes to determine what legal remedies, if any, consumers have against the organization.

If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc., you should contact a data breach attorney as soon as possible.

What to Do if You Received a Data Breach Notification from Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

If you open your mailbox to find a Farmers Telephone Cooperative data breach notification letter, your personal data was compromised in the breach. This means that a total stranger, possibly a criminal looking to steal your identity, could have accessed, viewed, and retained your data. Unfortunately, you’ll never know why a hacker wanted to obtain your information until it’s too late. Thus, it is essential you remain vigilant to protect yourself from the heightened risk of identity theft by taking the following steps:

  • Carefully read the data breach letter sent by Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. to determine what information was accessible;
  • Make a copy of the letter for your records;
  • Enroll in the free credit monitoring service provided by Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.;
  • Change all your online passwords and security questions;
  • Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication, where it is available;
  • Regularly review your credit card and bank account statements for any signs of suspicious activity;
  • Monitor your credit report for any unexpected changes that may be a sign of identity theft;
  • Contact one of the major credit bureaus to request they add a fraud alert to your profile; and
  • Notify your banks and credit card companies of the data breach.

About Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (“FTC”) is a telecommunications company that is headquartered in Kingstree, South Carolina. The company services a 3,000 square-mile area and operates seven stores, which provide a wide range of telecommunications services, including internet, wireless, voice, security and digital TV other related products and services:

  • FTC Internet
  • FTC Wireless
  • FTC Voice
  • FTC Security
  • FTC Digital TV
  • FTC Diversified
  • FTC Communications
  • FTC Connections
  • FLD

Two affiliate corporations fall under the FTC’s umbrella: FTC Communications, LLC (FTC Wireless), and FTC Diversified Services (DSI), LLC.

According to the company’s website, it regularly collects the following information from it’s customer’s:

  • Name,
  • Address,
  • Phone number,
  • Billing records,
  • Service maintenance and repair records,
  • Premium service subscription information,
  • Marketing information, and
  • Customer complaints.

Farmers Telephone Cooperative also explains on their website how they use this information.

The Details of the Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.  Consumer Data Breach

According to Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc., on June 30, 2021, the company experienced a network disruption related to several of the company’s computer systems. In response, Farmers secured its network and launched an investigation to learn more about the scope of the breach. This investigation revealed that certain files were accessed or acquired by an unauthorized party. On January 16, 2022, after conducting a follow-up investigation, Farmers learned that the breach resulted in the names and Social Security numbers of 8,099 people being compromised.

On approximately January 28, 2021, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. mailed out data breach notification letters to those whose information affected by the breach. These notices explain the details of the breach and provide consumers with recommended steps to limit the risk of identity theft. Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. explained that it is not aware of any instance in which the data obtained through the breach was actually accessed or used by the unauthorized party. However, affected individuals should keep a lookout for signs of identity theft and fraud by closely monitoring their online accounts and credit reports.

Below is a copy of the initial data breach letter issued by Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.  (a sample of the actual notice sent to consumers can be found here):

Dear [Consumer],

Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (“FTC”) is writing to inform you about an incident that may have involved your personal information. We take the privacy and security of your information very seriously. Therefore, we are writing to inform you about the incident and advise you of certain steps you can take to help protect your personal information, including activating the free credit and identity monitoring services we are offering you.

What Happened? On June 30. 2021, we discovered a data security incident impacting certain systems. We immediately launched an investigation and took steps to secure our network. We also engaged an independent digital forensics firm assist with the investigation and determine what happened and whether sensitive information may have been accessed acquired during the incident. Through the course of our investigation, we learned that some files were accessed or acquired and contained certain personal information. We then took steps to thoroughly review those files and identify current address information to notify you of this incident, which was completed in mid-January. Out of an abundance of caution, we are providing complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to you

What Information Was Involved? The files that may have been accessed contained your <<variable text>.

What Are We Doing? As soon as we discovered the incident, we took the steps described above. We also reported the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will provide whatever cooperation is necessary to help prevent fraudulent activity and facilitate prosecution of the perpetrators. In addition, we have implemented enhanced safeguards to minimize the chance that an incident like this could occur in the future. Furthermore, out of an abundance of caution we are providing you information about steps you can take to help protect your personal information and identity theft protection services through IDX, a data security and recover services expert. Your complimentary one-year enrollment includes: credit and CyberScan monitoring, a $1,000,000 insurance reimbursement policy, and fully managed identity theft recovery services. Additional information about these services is included with this letter.

NOTICE: If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH letter from Farmers Telephone Cooperative, contact the attorneys at Console & Associates at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential Case Evaluation form here.