Equifax Data Breach and Equifax Lawsuit
More than 143 million Americans have had their sensitive personal information put at risk in one of the largest data breaches to ever occur in the United States.
The data was exposed at Equifax, one of the top three credit reporting agencies in the country. Between May and July 2017, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and even driver’s license numbers were accessed. In addition, the hack compromised 209,000 people’s credit card numbers and personal dispute details for another 182,000 people.
Compared to other data breaches that have occurred in the past few years, this one is different for one immense reason – those who had their information stolen don’t necessarily have to be customers. Anyone who has run a credit score between May and July 2017 could be at risk. To put it simply, the scope of this breach is immense. What makes matters worse is the company knew about the data breach six weeks prior to publicly announcing it and purchased an identity protection service – ID Watchdog – two weeks after the company was made aware of the breach, but a month before they informed the public that their customer’s data had been breached.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply cut ties with Equifax. The size of the breach is so astronomical because it does not just affect Equifax’s direct customers. The company is one of only three major credit bureaus in the U.S. A large portion of consumer credit scores are run through Equifax. Thus, if you have run a credit score check in the past few years for any number of reasons – applying for a loan, credit card, job, car, home, or any other process involving running a credit score – this breach likely affects you. For most of these processes, banks, loan offices, auto dealers, and retailers run your information. You likely would not know whether Equifax was used.
As more details emerge, it is important to pay close attention to your financial activities. The following tips could protect you against the breach:
- Become your own Chief Privacy Officer.
- Pay attention to who and where you’re submitting personal information.
- Watch your financial accounts closely in case there is any fraud activity.
- Consider activating a fraud alert on your accounts if your information was compromised in the Equifax data breach. This will alert various financial institutions that your information is at risk.
- File taxes early. This greatly reduces or eliminates, the chance a scammer could file taxes in your name.
- Do not click on questionable links in emails or other websites.
- Consider freezing your credit reports. Although a drastic measure, it will prevent scammers from applying for credit cards, buying cars, etc. in your name. Keep in mind that if you plan on doing those things yourself, you will not be able to while your credit reports are frozen.
Privacy and personal data is an issue that has become more controversial over the years, and the Equifax data breach is yet another example of the disastrous effects a breach can have on individuals.
How Will I Know if I Was Affected?
Equifax will send mailed notices to any customer whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed, but they will not be personally contacting every individual who has been breached.
Equifax is now offering a year of free monitoring and protection to customers – but it could be a ploy for the company to benefit from customers that forget to cancel their enrollment.
Equifax’s free monitoring and protection services are offered for one year. To be eligible for the services, users are required to create an account and include billing information. Users must cancel the account after one year or they are subject to be automatically charged for Equifax auto-renewal subscription the following year.
Equifax’s free monitoring and protection services include an arbitration clause — a boilerplate contract that could protect the company from future lawsuits.
- There is an arbitration service included in Equifax’s free monitoring and protection package.
- Users must send Equifax a written letter within 30 days requesting to opt out of their arbitration services, otherwise, they waive their right to take legal recourse against the company.
- It must be a written letter, there is no online form.
- The legality of this clause is currently being challenged.
As of October 4th, Equifax announced an additional 2.5 million account breaches in addition to the initial 143 million account breaches announced on September 7th.
Additional Equifax Lawsuit Details
Three of Equifax’s top executives offloaded a high volume of their personal shares in the company less than a week after the Equifax breach occurred – yet Equifax executives claim these were routinely scheduled trades and they were not made aware of the breach at the time.
- Chief financial officer John Gamble sold 13% of his stock: $946,374.
- US Information Solution President Joseph Loughran sold 9% of his stock: $584,099.
- Workforce Solutions President Rodolf Ploder sold 4% of his stock: $250,458.
- The SEC is currently conducting an investigation into these stock-dumps.
Equifax Chairman and Chief Executive, Richard F. Smith, retired on Monday, Sept. 25 in the wake of the Equifax breach.
Smith had been CEO for 12 years. Although his retirement as CEO is effective immediately, Smith will take on the role of an ‘unpaid advisor’ to assist in the CEO transition. An Equifax board member, Mark Feidler, will take over as the company’s non-executive chairman.
Equifax Lawsuit – Explained
Although Equifax announced the initial account breaches in a September 7th press release, the company was made aware of these breaches as early as July 29th. Equifax chose to keep the information private. Unfortunately for the millions of American consumers affected, this means that for more than six weeks, the attackers had the opportunity to use stolen personal information to take out loans, open accounts, and credit cards, make purchases, and commit identity theft.
Currently, the number of lawsuits against Equifax is growing throughout U.S. courts in response to the company’s negligent actions. TorHoerman Law was at the forefront of this litigation being one of the first firms to file an Equifax lawsuit in Illinois.
TorHoerman Law is currently not accepting Equifax lawsuit cases. If you have questions, please contact us.