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Posted On March 15, 2023 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches

Merced College Data Breach Leaks Student Information

NOTICE: If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH letter from Merced College, 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 LetterMarch 15, 2023 – After discovering that a malware attack had exposed private student data to an unauthorized party, Merced College notified the Attorney General of California of the breach on March 9, 2023. The incident led to unauthorized access to consumers’ complete names, addresses, and Personally Identifying Information (PII), according to the company’s official filing. Merced College started mailing data breach notification letters to everyone who was affected by the recent data security incident as soon as it was confirmed that customer data had been leaked.

The Merced College data leak is being investigated by the data breach lawyers of Console & Associates, P.C. We are providing free consultations where we can go over your legal options for obtaining compensation from Merced if you have received a breach notice and are curious to learn more about the dangers of identity theft and what you can do to protect yourself.

About Merced College

A public community college, Merced College provides 82 Associate Degree programs and 50 certificate programs in a variety of fields, including business, agribusiness, health & public safety, STEM, and industry & manufacturing. Around 15,000 people are currently enrolled at Merced College, which was founded in Merced, California, in 1962. More than 271 individuals are employed by Merced College, which brings in about $29 million a year.

Information About the Merced College Data Breach

Merced discovered that some of the company’s computer systems had been encrypted on November 3, 2022, according to the company’s statement with the California Attorney General. According to further research, a malware attack caused the devices to be encrypted. In reaction, Merced started investigating the incident to see if any student or faculty data had been exposed as a result.

An unauthorized entity obtained access to the school’s IT network between October 25, 2022, and November 3, 2022, according to the Merced College inquiry. Additionally, it was found that some of the files that the unauthorized person had access to contained private data belonging to specific students and academic members.

After discovering that private customer information had been accessed by an unauthorized entity, Merced College started to examine the affected files to ascertain what data had been hacked and which students were impacted. Consumers’ names, addresses, and other Personally Identifying Information may be included in the leaked information, although this depends on the individual.

On March 9, 2023, Merced College sent data breach notification letters to all individuals whose sensitive information had been compromised.

What If Your Personal Information is Leaked in a Data Breach?

If Merced College notifies you of a data breach, it means that the breached data included your personal information. It’s possible that someone else now has access to your name, Social Security number, and other private information.

On the dark web, hackers frequently sell the data they obtained as a result of a data breach in order to profit or steal identities. Consumers can do a few things to lessen the risks of having their identity stolen.

If your data has been compromised, there are a few things you should do right away that we’ve listed for you. This list is not exhaustive, so you might want to take additional measures if your Social Security information has been compromised.

Read the Data Breach Letter

If your information has been leaked in a data breach, the college will send a letter informing those affected. Pertinent information on the attack is in these letters, like how your information was accessed, what the school is doing to protect your data in the future, and whether anyone affected has been the fraud or identity theft victim. Read the data breach letter carefully to get all of the information and use it to determine your next steps.

Monitor Your Financial Accounts and Credit Report

Once they have your details, hackers will act quickly. If they wait too long, people will have time to close their accounts before the stolen information can be used. The data the hackers obtained from Merced might not have been all the data required to conduct crimes. If so, it will take some time for them to gather all the necessary data, which could take weeks or months. Keep an eye out for unusual behavior in your accounts, and remain vigilant.

Enroll for Free Credit Monitoring Provided by Merced College

The victims of the data breach will receive a free credit monitoring program from Merced College. When there is any suspicious behavior on your accounts, credit monitoring notifies you. They typically cost $20 to $40 per month, so take advantage of the free tool offered by Merced. You don’t need to be concerned about how using a free credit monitoring service will impact your ability to pursue a lawsuit against a business that may have been at fault before the breach.

Freeze Your Credit or Sign Up for Fraud Alert

In contrast to credit tracking, credit freezes and fraud alerts are free services offered by the big three credit bureaus. With a credit block, businesses cannot check your credit without your consent. A credit freeze might seem extreme, but according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, it is the best method to stop fraud after your personal information has been compromised. Companies that check your credit are alerted by a fraud warning that someone might be trying to use their data fraudulently.

Change All Passwords to Online Accounts

You should update the passwords for all of your online accounts if a data breach exposed your personal information. Change the credentials on every account, even if you know which ones have been compromised. Hackers can use any account to access further information about a customer.

If You Have Been Affected by Merced College Data Breach, Console & Associates, P.C. Can Help

The consumer privacy lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. help customers affected by data and security breaches pursue legal solutions by offering free consultations. By explaining your rights in clear, concise terms, we help you make an informed decision about your next steps. If you are a victim of the Merced College data breach, Console & Associates, P.C. will investigate at no charge to you and offer advice on how to proceed. If you decide to pursue a case, rest assured that we don’t get paid unless you do. If your claim is successful, legal fees are either paid out of the funds recovered or by the defendant. If your claim is not successful, you pay nothing.

To schedule your free consultation, just call (866) 778-5500 today or fill out our secure contact form.

Below is a portion of the letter sent to affected individuals:

Dear [Redacted],

We are writing to notify you that Merced College (“MCCD”) experienced a security incident that may have involved some of your personal information. This notice explains the incident, what we are doing, and steps you may want to take in response.

What Happened?

On November 3, 2022, MCCD experienced a cybersecurity incident involving malware, which encrypted some of our systems. Upon detection, we quickly took steps to secure our network and launch an investigation. The investigation determined that between October 25, 2022 and November 3, 2022 an unauthorized party may have accessed certain data that was stored on those affected systems.

What Information Was Involved?

We conducted a comprehensive review of the data accessed or acquired during the incident and, on February 20, 2023, determined that the information potentially accessed by the unauthorized party may have contained your name, address, [Redacted].

What We Are Doing.

In an effort to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future, we have implemented additional measures to enhance the security of our network environment. Additionally, as a precaution, we have arranged to provide identity monitoring at no cost to you through IDX. IDX identity protection services include: 12 months of credit and CyberScan monitoring, a $1,000,000 insurance reimbursement policy, and fully managed identity theft recovery services. For more information on identity theft prevention and IDX Identity Monitoring, including instructions on how to activate your complimentary membership, please see the additional pages provided with this letter.

What You Can Do.

It is always a good idea to remain vigilant by regularly reviewing your financial accounts and credit reports for any unauthorized activity. We also encourage you to enroll in IDX’s identity monitoring service. For more information on identity theft prevention and your complimentary services, as well as some additional steps you can take to protect your personal information, please see the additional pages enclosed with this letter.

For More Information.

We regret this incident occurred and apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions, please call (833) 753-4542, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Pacific Time.

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