Remember back to 2016 when optometrists and optometry students started receiving notifications that they had applied for Chase Amazon Visa credit cards, along with other random credit inquiries? The information that was breached seemed to all funnel back to the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO®).
Stolen names, addresses, and social security numbers for those affected were consistent with what the NBEO® had in their database (old last names and addresses that were used when the doctors were students and took the exams). Following the breach, 13 doctors of optometry filed 3 separate actions against NBEO®, which have now been consolidated into the current case of Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry. However, throughout all of this investigation and lawsuits, theNBEO® still disputes that it was the source of the breach.
In a recent court ruling, a Chief U.S. District Judge gave preliminary approval to the class action settlement that not only establishes a means of financial reimbursement and credit monitoring services to affected individuals, but also outlines steps that NBEO® must take to significantly upgrade its data security practices.
The NBEO® has agreed to establish a fund of $3.25 million to compensate the nearly 61,000 victims of the alleged data breach, although no payments will be made until after the Court grants final approval of the settlement, and all appeals, if any, are resolved.
Who is Part of the Settlement?
You are considered to be a member of the settlement class if your personal information was stored in NBEO’s database as of November 15, 2018, or if you received a settlement notice indicating that you are a class member.
People who are excluded from the settlement are NBEO® officers, directors, legal representatives, successors, or subsidiaries; the presiding judge and any judicial staff or immediate family members; and anyone named a class member who would like to exclude themselves from the settlement.
What are the Settlement Benefits?
- Reimbursement of Out-of-Pocket Losses: The settlement fund will be used to reimburse members for out-of-pocket expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 for losses fairly traceable to the alleged data breach. This includes professional fees (such as attorney’s fees and credit repair services); notary, fax, or mileage charges; credit monitoring or identity theft protection services; and the costs associated with freezing and/or unfreezing credit with any reporting agencies.
- Reimbursement for Attested Time: Class members may be reimbursed for time spent remedying issues related to the alleged data breach up to a maximum of $1,000. This includes reimbursement for up to 40 hours at $25/hour with an attestation and brief description of actions taken due to the breach and the approximate time associated with each action.
- Three-Bureau Credit Monitoring Services: All settlement class members are eligible to enroll in 3 years of Identity Guard’s “Total Plan” Credit Monitoring Services at no cost, regardless of whether one submits a claim for Out-of-Pocket Losses or Attested Time. These services include daily credit monitoring of your credit file at Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, along with a $1 million identity theft insurance policy and identity restoration services.
- Identity Restoration and Fraud Resolution Services: Regardless of whether you submit a claim under the settlement, all settlement class members will be eligible to access identity restoration services through Identity Guard, including professional fraud resolution assistance to help with identity recovery and restoration in case you experience identity theft or fraud in the future, for a period of up to 3 years.
How to File a Claim
To obtain credit monitoring services, or to file a claim for reimbursement of attested time or out-of-pocket losses, you must file a claim form. There are 2 options for filing claims:
- File Online: You may fill out and submit a claim form online at www.NBEOsettlemet.com (this is the quickest way to file a claim).
- File by Mail: Alternatively, you may send back the claim form included in the notice that you should have received from the class action settlement, or download a hard copy of the claim form and mail it along with any supporting documentation. Claim information can be mailed to:
Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc., c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 58153, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8153
- May 8, 2019: Up until this date you may exclude yourself from the settlement by informing the settlement administrator that you would like to “opt-out” of the lawsuit. If the settlement becomes final, this is the only option that allows you to retain your rights to separately sue NBEO® for claims related to the alleged data breach. May 8th is also the deadline to object to the settlement by writing to the administrator explaining why you do not believe that the settlement should be approved.
- July 8, 2019: This is the last day to file online and postmark deadline to submit a claim for reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses or attested time. This is also the deadline to submit a claim in order to receive the credit monitoring services offered under the settlement.
- No deadline: You may access identity restoration services after the settlement becomes final, whether or not you make a claim.
- If you do nothing, you will not be eligible to receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses or attested time, or to enroll in credit monitoring services. If the settlement becomes final, you also give up your rights to sue NBEO® separately relating to the alleged data breach.
If you have any questions about the settlement, or did not receive a notice by email or mail and you believe that you are a member of the class, you should contact the settlement administrator at Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc., c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 58153, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8153.