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4/7/2010
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Customers Sue Countrywide Financial Over Theft And Sale Of Personal Data

Class-action suit seeks $20 million as well as answers about company's involvement

Customers of Countrywide Financial have filed a class-action lawsuit over the 2008 data breach that enabled company insiders to steal and sell their personal information.

According to a Courthouse News Service report, the class-action lawsuit on behalf of 16 plaintiffs seeks $20 million in damages, plus punitive damages.

The data theft, originally attributed to a single employee working over a two-year-period, exposed tens of thousands of customer records.

The lawsuit alleges that Countrywide Financial employees stole and sold "tens of thousands, or millions" of customers' personal financial information, according to the news report.

The suit claims the defendants do not dispute that customers' private financial information was disseminated. It seeks to find out "whether the dissemination was intended as a plan or scheme, or was intentional; [and] whether any of the defendants was simply aiding and abetting, rather than an architect of the plan to disseminate the personal information."

The lawsuit also claims that the defendants were slow to admit the massive breaches of confidentiality, and offered little help when they finally did admit it. The defendants delayed disclosing the breaches to "gain time and money to extricate defendants from the financial stress [they] had created," the claim states.

The plaintiffs say their identities have been stolen or compromised, their credit histories have been "shattered," and they've been unable to obtain loans, lines of credit, or real estate financing. "Countrywide delayed several months before informing their customers," the complaint states. "Finally, Countrywide informed only certain of their customers by letter and offered in settlement to refer the customers/borrowers to counseling, when it was Countrywide that needed to review and repair its internal procedures."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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