How does the Equifax data breach affect you?
On the night of September 7, 2017, Equifax announced it was the subject of a system “hack” that lasted from mid-May through July, 2017. Equifax is one of the largest credit-reporting agencies in the world. It holds sensitive information belonging to over 140 million individuals. The hackers accessed individuals:
- Social Security numbers;
- Birth dates;
- Addresses; and,
- Driver’s license numbers.
In addition, the hackers also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people, and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. This hack affected personal information for individuals in America, the UK, and Canada, too.
Senior Equifax executives sold stock worth approximately $1.8 million only days after the company discovered the June 2017 data breach. It is no doubt that these executives feared investigations and lawsuits from the federal government, shareholders, and consumers.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, to use reasonable measures to protect your personal and sensitive information. As a result of this negligent data breach, Equifax is liable and can be sued by you and other consumers for any harm you may have incurred, such as a loss of credit, or fraudulent credit report entries or applications, due to the data breach.
Equifax’s Flawed Solution
In an attempt to remedy this data breach, and ease consumer’s minds, Equifax is attempting to lure consumers into submitting their personal information to them again, to verify whether their information was released. However, consumers should be warned that the terms and conditions suggesting that you agree to submit any legal claim or lawsuit against Equifax to arbitration – a venue known to disadvantage consumers.
Alternatives to Equifax’s Flawed Solution
Equifax is, once again, showing consumers that corporations are not to be trusted with your good intentions. As opposed to helping consumers, they are merely attempting to insulate themselves from further legal action. Don’t fall prey to their attempts.
But what can be done to protect yourself from this, and other large corporate data breaches?
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – for free – by visiting one of the available online resources, such as annualcreditreport.com. Credit accounts or activity that you don’t recognize may indicate fraudulent activity. You can visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out more.
- Consider placing a “freeze” on your credit files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. However, a credit freeze is limited to what it can do, and will not prevent a hacker or thief from making changes to your current accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- Consider placing a “fraud alert” on your credit files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim, and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you.
- Contact a credit fraud lawyer who can investigate any potential fraud activity and recover on your behalf. Aaron Jophlin and The Jophlin Law Firm have experience helping individuals recover after a large corporation is negligent with their personal information. Call 833-JOPHLIN or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your claim with a data breach attorney.