Posted On November 23, 2022 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches
On November 9, 2022, GATE Petroleum Company filed notice of a data breach with the Maine Attorney General’s Office after the company learned that sensitive consumer information contained on its computer network was accessed by an unauthorized party—likely as a result of a cyberattack. Based on the company’s official filing, the incident resulted in an unauthorized party gaining access to consumers’ names and Social Security numbers. After confirming that consumer data was leaked, GATE began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals who were impacted by the recent data security incident.
If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the GATE data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of this investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from GATE Petroleum Company.
The available information regarding the GATE Petro breach comes from the company’s filing with the Maine Attorney General’s Office. According to this source, on September 21, 2022, GATE detected suspicious activity within its computer network. In response, the company began working with a third-party cybersecurity company to investigate the incident and determine what, if any, consumer data was compromised.
The GATE investigation confirmed that an unauthorized party was able to access the company’s computer network between September 20, 2022 and September 22, 2022. Further, the company’s investigation revealed that some of the compromised files contained sensitive information belonging to certain consumers.
Upon discovering that sensitive consumer data was made available to an unauthorized party, GATE Petro began to review the affected files to determine what information was compromised and which consumers were impacted. While the breached information varies depending on the individual, it may include your name and Social Security number.
On November 9, 2022, GATE Petro sent out data breach letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.
Founded in 1960, GATE Petroleum Company is a diversified company based in Jacksonville, Florida. The company operates in a number of markets; however, GATE’s core operations consist of operating gas stations and convenience stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. GATE’s business also extends to car washes, fleet and fuel services, real estate, hospitality, and construction materials. GATE Petroleum Company also owns the Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach, the River Club, and the Epping Forest Yacht and Country Club. GATE Petro employs more than 2,938 people and generates approximately $731 million in annual revenue.
Data breaches put your sensitive information in the hands of potential criminals. So, as soon as you learn about a data breach, it is important to protect yourself from falling victim to identity theft or fraud. However, this can be challenging because, by the time you get a data breach letter, it’s often been months since your information found its way into hackers’ hands. However, there are still steps you can take to protect your information, your assets, and your hard-earned money.
Below is a list of things to consider as soon as you learn your information was compromised in a breach. However, keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, especially if your Social Security number or financial account numbers were leaked as a result of the breach. These situations may justify further action on your part.
Companies are legally required to send you a data breach letter if your information was leaked as a result of a cyberattack. So, the first thing to do after receiving a data breach letter is to carefully review the document to determine whether your information was leaked and, if so, what data was compromised. Data breach letters also contain important information about how the unauthorized party accessed your information, what the company has done since then to prevent future leaks, and whether there have been any reports of identity theft or fraud from other victims. These letters also contain a contact number you can call if you have any questions that were not answered in the letter.
It’s common knowledge that you should check your bank accounts and credit card accounts right after you learn of a data breach. Most of the time, hackers will try to use your information right after the breach to ensure that it’s “fresh” and that you haven’t closed your accounts. However, if a breach does not provide hackers with all the information they need to orchestrate their crimes, it may take them time to gather the information they need. For this reason, it may not be until weeks or months after a breach that hackers can use the stolen information. Therefore, it is imperative that you frequently check all your online accounts to monitor for any suspicious activity.
Credit monitoring is a fee-based service that alerts you to any suspicious activity on your credit profile. On average, credit monitoring costs consumers between $20 to $40 per month. However, companies usually offer victims of a data breach free credit monitoring for a period of time—usually between one to two years. Indeed, GATE Petroleum is providing victims of the breach with this service for 12 months. Signing up for credit monitoring is simple, and doing so provides you with an easy way to keep an eye on your credit profile. Moreover, enrolling in credit monitoring does not impact your ability to file a data breach lawsuit against a company that leaked your information.
Fraud alerts and credit freezes are two free services offered by the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). A fraud alert lets any company that pulls your credit know that you suspect someone is trying to fraudulently use your information. A credit freeze offers an additional layer of protection by preventing any company from pulling your credit without your advance approval. The Identity Theft Resource Center has repeatedly explained that placing a credit freeze on your credit account is the single best way to prevent fraud after a data breach.
At Console & Associates, P.C., our consumer privacy lawyers monitor all security and data breaches to help affected consumers pursue their legal remedies. We offer free consultations to victims of data breaches and can explain your rights in clear, understandable terms so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case. If you’ve been affected by the GATE data breach or any other data security incident, Console & Associates, P.C., will investigate your case at no charge and offer you thorough advice about how to most effectively proceed with your case. If you decide to bring a case, we only get paid if you do. If your claim is successful, any legal fees are either paid by the defendant or come out of the funds recovered from the defendant. If your claim doesn’t result in a recovery, you will pay nothing.
Below is a copy of the initial data breach letter issued by GATE Petroleum Company (the actual notice sent to consumers can be found here):
GATE Petroleum Company is committed to ensuring the privacy and security of your personal information. As such, we want you to be aware of a recent incident that may involve some of that information. This letter explains the incident, measures we have taken, and some steps you may consider taking.
On September 21, 2022, we detected suspicious activity on our computer network. We immediately began an investigation with the assistance of an external cybersecurity firm. Our investigation determined that between September 20, 2022 and September 22, 2022, someone accessed certain files within our systems without authorization. In response, we moved as quickly as possible to close the access point and determine what, if any, information may have been involved. We reviewed those files and, on October 12, 2022, we determined that they contained your name as well your [Redacted].
It is always advisable to be vigilant for incidents of fraud or identity theft by reviewing your account statements and free credit reports for any unauthorized activity. To support you in your monitoring efforts, we are offering you a free one-year membership with Experian IdentityWorksSM Credit 3B. This product helps detect any misuse of your personal information and provides you with identity protection services that focus on immediate identification and resolution of any instance of identity theft. IdentityWorks is completely free to you and enrolling in this program will not affect your credit score. For more information on IdentityWorks, including instructions on how to activate your complimentary one-year membership, as well as additional steps you can take to protect your information, please see the pages that follow this letter.
We have and will continue to take steps to enhance the security of our computer systems and the data we maintain. If you have any questions about this incident, please call (855) 532-2122, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central time, excluding major U.S. holidays.