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100,000 Aussies sue Optus over data breach

Current and former Optus customers are seeking compensation from the telco.

Optus store and people walking.
Optus is facing a class action from thousands of current and former customers. (Source: Getty)

A Victorian man was left feeling “vulnerable, exposed and worried” after learning his personal information was compromised in the Optus data breach.

The man is one of the lead applicants in a class action being brought against the telco and does not want his name disclosed out of fear of being targeted by cybercriminals or scammers.

“Not knowing what still might happen as a result of having my information accessed, and by whom, haunts me,” he said.

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The man said he had been targeted by phishing and other scams a lot more frequently since the data breach.

“It feels like only a matter of time before I get scammed or defrauded, which is a constant worry that I didn’t have before I was let down by Optus,” he said.

He is one of more than 100,000 current and former Optus customers who have registered for the Slater and Gordon class action filed in Australia’s Federal Court today.

The group members are seeking compensation for losses caused by the data breach, including time and money spent replacing their identity documents, as well as non-economic losses like distress, frustration and disappointment.

Class action launched

The class action alleges Optus failed to protect, or take reasonable steps to protect, the personal information of its current and former customers.

It also alleges the telco breached privacy, telecommunications and consumer laws, as well as the company’s internal policies.

Slater and Gordon class actions practice group leader Ben Hardwick said there were “real risks” created by the disclosure of customers’ private information.

“The type of information made accessible put affected customers at a higher risk of being scammed and having their identities stolen, and Optus should have had adequate measures in place to prevent that,” Hardwick said.

“Concerningly, the data breach has also potentially jeopardised the safety of a large number of particularly vulnerable groups of Optus customers, such as victims of domestic violence, stalking and other crimes, as well as those working in frontline occupations, including the Defence Force and policing.”

Is it too late to sign up?

Current and former Optus customers can still register for the class action.

All former and current Optus customers whose information was compromised in the September data breach are eligible to participate.

Most affected customers would have been notified by Optus in the weeks following the breach.

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