First American Financial Data Breach Lawsuit Investigation

05.24.2019

On May 24, 2019, cybersercurity blogger Brian Krebs reported that title insurance giant First American Financial Corporation publicly exposed 885 million digitized records dating back 16 years that included consumer information such as bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and driver’s license images.

The files were available via the web to anyone with a web browser. Krebs reported that many of the exposed files were records of wire transactions with bank account numbers and other information from home or property buyers and sellers. Ben Shoval, a developer who notified Krebs about the data exposure said that’s because First American is one of the most widely-used companies for real estate title insurance and for closing real estate deals — where both parties to the sale meet in a room and sign stacks of legal documents. “The title insurance agency collects all kinds of documents from both the buyer and seller, including Social Security numbers, drivers licenses, account statements, and even internal corporate documents if you’re a small business. You give them all kinds of private information and you expect that to stay private.”

As noted by Krebs, “the information exposed by First American would be a virtual gold mine for phishers and scammers involved in so-called Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, which often impersonate real estate agents, closing agencies, title and escrow firms in a bid to trick property buyers into wiring funds to fraudsters. According to the FBI, BEC scams are the most costly form of cybercrime today. Armed with a single link to a First American document, BEC scammers would have an endless supply of very convincing phishing templates to use. A database like this also would give fraudsters a constant feed of new information about upcoming real estate financial transactions — including the email addresses, names and phone numbers of the closing agents and buyers.”

First American Financial had revenues of $5.8 billion in 2017.

If you used First American Financial for title insurance or settlement services relating to the sale or purchase of real estate and believe your information may have been exposed, please call 1.816.714.7137 or contact us here

Stueve Siegel Hanson is an industry-leader in data breach and cybersecurity litigation. Stueve Siegel Hanson attorneys have prosecuted cases involving the largest data breaches in U.S. history, securing millions of dollars for affected consumers. For more information about our data breach practice, click here.

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