Posted On May 6, 2023 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches
May 6 – Pinnacle Propane (Pinnacle) confirmed on April 28, 2023, that customer information in its possession was compromised in a recent hack, prompting the business to submit a notification of data breach with the Montana Attorney General. According to the company’s official report, the incident led to the disclosure of customers’ names and Social Security numbers to a third party. Pinnacle began distributing data breach notification letters to all individuals affected by the incident once it was confirmed that customer data was compromised.
It is crucial that you know what is at stake if you receive a data breach notification. Console & Associates, P.C.’s data breach lawyers are conducting an investigation into the Pinnacle data breach on behalf of individuals whose personal information was compromised. Those who have been affected by this breach and would like to discuss the potential consequences of identity theft, preventative measures they can take, and potential legal recourse they may have against Pinnacle Propane are invited to schedule a free consultation with us as part of our investigation.
Pinnacle Propane is a propane distribution firm that provides services to residential, commercial, and wholesale customers. Pinnacle is headquartered in Irving, Texas, but services consumers in nine states across the Midwest and South. SHV Energy, a Dutch firm, purchased Pinnacle Propane in 2017. Pinnacle Propane, which was founded in 2010, today employs over 469 people and earns around $125 million in yearly revenue. SHV Energy, the parent business of Pinnacle, employs over 17,000 individuals and earns about $11.5 billion in yearly sales.
Pinnacle reported to the Montana Attorney General on December 4, 2022 that between November 28, 2022 and December 6, 2022, an unauthorized entity accessed the company’s computer network. Pinnacle immediately locked down its network, alerted authorities, and started working with outside data security experts to determine what had happened. It was determined by the Pinnacle investigation that some of the files accessed by the hacker included sensitive customer data.
After learning that private customer information had fallen into the wrong hands, Pinnacle Propane launched a thorough investigation of the affected files to ascertain what data had been exposed and who had been affected. Information such as names and Social Security numbers may have been compromised, albeit the specifics vary on the victim.
Pinnacle Propane notified all affected customers of the data breach through letters dated April 28, 2023.
The Social Security number has become a de facto national identity in the United States. Indeed, practically everyone possesses a Social Security Number, and SSNs are used for everything from validating our identities to keeping tabs on our earnings. The theft of a person’s Social Security number provides them with nearly all the information they need to commit identity theft.
The methods used by hackers and cybercriminals to get people’s SSNs are continually evolving. But how do criminals make money off of stolen SSNs? The typical victimization scenario for a stolen Social Security number is a few fraudulent purchases. This is not always the case, though. It might take victims months to settle the many types of fraud perpetrated by criminals using stolen Social Security numbers.
Hackers who have stolen Social Security numbers typically use them to apply for new credit cards or loans. This may be done in minutes online, and the perpetrators normally just require the information stolen in the data breach. A hacker only requires your name, SS number, date of birth, and address to obtain a credit card in your name. In the event that a criminal is lacking any of this data, filling in the gaps is frequently as simple as running a fast web search or combing a database of previously released material.
The filing of a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is tax refund fraud, a kind of identity theft. By submitting a return in your name before you do, tax refund fraudsters want to steal your money. Unfortunately, many people who fall victim to tax refund fraud don’t find out they’ve been scammed until the IRS denies their tax return on the grounds that it has already been submitted. You should submit your tax return as soon as possible to lessen the likelihood of a hacker successfully obtaining your refund money through fraudulent means.
It is not uncommon for hackers to use stolen Social Security numbers to fraudulently seek government assistance in the victim’s name. Existing recipients of benefits may have their payments diverted by hackers. Due to the bureaucracy involved, victims of public benefits fraud might waste dozens, if not hundreds, of hours trying to get their lives back on track.
One typical way hackers utilize stolen information to make money is by opening new phone or utility accounts. According to the FTC, 13% of reported fraud in 2016 involved the opening of new phone or utility accounts. If a hacker has access to your name, address, and Social Security number, they have everything they need to set up a new utility account in your name.
Consult a knowledgeable data breach attorney if you’ve been the victim of a data breach and need advice on pursuing legal action against the corporation responsible for the leak.
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 Pinnacle Propane 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.