Verizon Customer’s Personal Photos Transferred Onto Random Device
Jeff Smith of Canby, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit claiming Verizon promised that his personal photos would be stored on a protected and secure server, but the company gave him little more than false assurance. The $4 million lawsuit against the cell phone service provider alleges Smith’s fiancée’s personal nude photographs ended up on another user’s phone, along with other family photos. What’s more, they ended up being inexplicably transferred onto a grandmother’s new device after her grandson downloaded images she stores on the cloud. The grandson happened to recognize Smith’s fiancée, Diana Peters, as a former co-worker and contacted him about the mistake.
It all happened after Nick Crommie of Oregon City purchased a Verizon LG V20 for his grandmother and offered to download her data onto the new phone. After transferring the files, Crommie noticed as he scrolled through his grandma’s images that there were photos of a man and woman and their baby mixed in which clearly didn’t belong to her. He then realized the woman in the photos was a former co-worker and recognized the man as her boyfriend at the time.
Crommie contacted his former co-worker on Facebook and called her about the mistake. She told him the photos had been on Smith’s phone. “There’s no connection between them and my grandma, their phone numbers aren’t the same, we later cleared the phone completely and the same photos came back again,” Crommie said.
Smith went to a Verizon store near Portland to complain about the incident, but an employee told him not much could be done to rectify the situation unless the man hired “a big shot lawyer” to battle the company. So, he did just that, hiring Michael Fuller, partner at Olsen Daines and adjunct professor of consumer law at Lewis & Clark Law School. They submitted their lawsuit on Valentine’s Day, alleging violation of a state law prohibiting unlawful trade practices as well as negligent data breach.
Peters said she worries that their pictures may have been downloaded onto other Verizon phones. “They don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Fuller. “And at this point, we don’t know if this is something that other Verizon customers have experienced.”
Peters said the couple was hoping to avoid litigation, but felt they had no choice but to move forward with the suit. “We didn’t want to go this route, but the company needs to be accountable to its customers,” Peters said. “Verizon doesn’t have any answers for us or any system in place to help us. We don’t know what else to do.”
According to the filing, “Plaintiff had hoped to resolve the issue outside of court but he was told by Verizon’s agent that nothing could be done unless plaintiff hired a ‘big shot lawyer’ to try to take on Verizon.”
Verizon is no stranger to data breaches. In July of last year, millions of customer records were exposed after an Israeli technology company left user’s personal data unprotected. An estimated 14 million records of Verizon customers were found unsecured on an Amazon storage server controlled by Israeli-based Nice Systems. And, this breach occurred just one year following a similar security issue in which the contact information of 1.5 million Verizon business customers was for sale by hackers.