Owner of Ashley Madison Adultery Website Pays $11.2 Million to Settle Data Breach Lawsuit
The owner of the Ashley Madison adultery website has agreed to pay $11.2 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of about 37 million users whose personal details were exposed in a July 2015 data breach. According to a Reuters news report, Ruby Corp, formerly known as Avid Life Media Inc. denied wrongdoing in agreeing to the preliminary class action settlement that requires approval by a federal judge in St. Louis.
Millions of Users Affected
The website touted itself as helping people, primarily men, cheat on their spouses. They even had catchy slogans like: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The data breach proved costly for the Toronto-based company, which ended up spending millions of dollars to improve security and privacy for users. Last December, Ruby agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a probe by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and several states into lax data security and deceptive practices, without admitting liability.
Under the recent settlement of the class action lawsuit, users with valid claims can recoup up to $3,500 depending on how well they can document their losses that were directly attributed to the breach. Lawyers for Ashley Madison users may get up to one-third of the $11.2 million payout to cover legal fees, according to court documents.
Hackers who stole this sensitive consumer information did make good on their threat to post the stolen data online. A data dump, which was 9.7 gigabytes in size, was posted in August 2015 including account details and long-ins for some 32 million users of the website. Seven years worth of credit card and other payment transaction details were also part of this data dump. Ashley Madison claimed to have nearly 40 million users at the time of the breach.
Data breaches are unfortunately a fact of life today. However, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself as a consumer if your information has been compromised:
- Close the compromised account as soon as possible. This will help cut off potential crooks’ access to your account.
- Check your credit reports. Look for accounts you don’t recognize or for suspicious activity. You are entitled to a free annual report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
- Watch out for scammers since a data breach does make you more vulnerable to phishing and other scams.
If you have been the victim of a data breach, contact an experienced class action lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.