Morgan Stanley Class Action Data Breach Lawsuit Filed

2020-12-15 15:10:00
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data breach graphic with open lock over screen with binary codePlaintiffs Sylvia Tillman, Amresh Jaijee, Vivian Yates, Richard Gamen, and Cheryl Gamen filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, of failing to properly safeguard their personal information on behalf of all other similarly situated clients.

On July 10, 2020, one of the world’s foremost financial institutions Morgan Stanley notified its 15,400 brokers and affected current and former clients of two separate data security incidents involving confidential personal information left on decommissioned computer equipment.

Data Center Event

In 2016, Morgan Stanley closed two data centers and decommissioned computer equipment that processed client information in both locations. Some servers and other hardware were sold to recyclers, however, these devices were not sufficiently scrubbed of information and contained unencrypted client data. Morgan Stanley discovered this incident over a year ago but did not start disclosing the data breach until March 2020.

WAAS Device Event

In 2019, in a separate event, Morgan Stanley replaced computer servers (WAAS devices) that contained personal information in local branch offices. During a recent inventory, some of the decommissioned equipment was missing. A known software flaw is thought to have resulted in data remaining on the missing disks in unencrypted form.

Compromised sensitive information that may have remained on the involved devices includes:

  • Contact information
  • Dates of birth
  • Asset values
  • Holdings data
  • Social Security numbers
  • Account names
  • Account numbers
    (for Morgan Stanley and any linked bank accounts)
  • Passport numbers

Founded in 1935, Morgan Stanley employs 60,000 people in 500 offices in 41 countries. The global financial leader is headquartered in New York City and reported $4 billion in 2020 first-quarter revenues. The company advises 3.5 million people around the globe and manages $2 trillion in assets. In February, Morgan Stanley announced that it was buying online trading firm E*Trade Financial Corp. for $13 billion in stock.

The plaintiffs are represented by M. Anderson Berry and Leslie Guillon of Clayeo C. Arnold, A Professional Law Corp; Amanda Peterson, John A. Yanchunis, and Ryan J. McGee of Morgan & Morgan; and William “Billy” Peerce Howard and Heather H. Jones with The Consumer Protection Firm. The case was filed on July 29, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Sylvia Tillman et al. v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Case No. 1:20-cv-05914, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

How do I join the class?

If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH, you will be included automatically in the class unless you opt-out and no further action will be required by you. Class members have a passive role throughout class action litigation. If the lawsuit is successful, all class members receive equal compensation which is awarded to all class members, regardless of the degree of harm they suffered.

If you are unsure whether your personal information may have been affected, contact the Morgan Stanley Client Service Center at 866-742-6669. Morgan Stanley is offering two years of identity protection services for affected parties and is encouraging individuals to monitor fraudulent activity and review credit reports closely.