If you've had a credit report, there's a good chance that you're one of 143 million American consumers who's sensitive and personal information was exposed in the latest data breach at Equifax. Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Equifax waited over a month before revealing the breach. If I calculate those number correctly, that's 44% of the US population. That’s an incredible number. That’s almost half of us here in the United States. So now, Equifax joins Target, Home Depot, and Yahoo. In my opinion, this hack was very much like all other hacks. It was an inside job.
Here are the facts, according to Equifax:
- The breach lasted from mid-May through July.
- The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
- They stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people.
- Dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.
- They grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.
Here are other facts which they will not tell you:
- This was not the first time that Equifax has been hacked.
- Hackers exposed a security flaw which their software has been outdated for over 10 years old.
- The hackers have been running this hack for months until it was discovered in July 2017.
- They've been using the STRUTS framework. Most companies around the world are using the same STRUTS infrastructure as well.
- The top 3 Executives and CFO sold large shares in April. All totaled to $146 million.
- In an event to stop the bleeding, Equifax recommends that you go and check to see if you were affected by this hack. But if you read the fine prints, they are telling you that if you proceed, you will release all liabilites against Equifax. Don't do it! This article will explain later.
Below are actions which we should all take immediately. Also, there is a class action lawsuit that should be in place. There are more information in regards to the procedures which are ran by a bot to get you started in the class action lawsuit process.
What to do next?
Definitely, there are preventative or reactive measures we should all take immediately. Below are recommendations from Equifax. I recommend not use the following steps as Equifax has suggested.
- Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. (This link takes you away from our site. Equifaxsecurity2017.com is not controlled by the FTC.) Do not search for your social security number to see if you were affected by the hack. You will have to release their liability for the data breach to continue.
- Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
- Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
- You also can access frequently asked questions at the site.
Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from (not Equifax), Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your 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 really is you.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Visit www.identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.
The Bot That Processes Your Class Action Lawsuit
Can you believe it? It's a robot that's going to help us in organizing a class action lawsuit against Equifax. A little bit of relief from all this, is knowing that there is a class action lawsuit in place. You may eligible in this lawsuit. Making matters a lot easier to process the class action lawsuit, there is a Chatbot which has been designed to assist you in filing the class action lawsuit against Equifax. You can sue Equifax for negligence in small claims court using the DoNotPay bot and demand maximum damages. Maximum damages range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee.
YOU STILL HAVE TO SERVE THE LEGAL FORMS YOURSELF
The link to the bot itself is located here. https://donotpay-search-master.herokuapp.com/
The bot launched in July in all 50 states. Its creator, Joshua Browder, who was one of the 143 million affected by the breach, is tackling a much bigger target, with larger aspirations to match. He says, “I hope that my product will replace lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax.”
Not that the bot helps you do anything you can’t already do yourself, which is filling out the forms. But you still have to serve them yourself. Unfortunately, the chatbot can’t show up in court a few weeks later to argue your case for you either. To add to the headache, small claims court rules differ from state to state. For instance, in California, a person needs to demand payment from Equifax or explain why they haven’t demanded payment before filing the form.
Attorney Scott Nelson, from the advocacy organization Public Citizen, says he isn’t convinced a chatbot can successfully win a lawsuit. “I am not inclined to think it would be a panacea. Filing and winning a small claims case takes more than just filling in a form.”
Still, chatting with the bot on a friendly blue screen can help take the guesswork out of small claims court procedures. All you have to do is state your name and address and it generates eight pages of lawsuit documentation in PDF form for you to print and file.
Equifax seems like it’s going to put up a fight, so help in the form of chatbots can’t hurt. Peter Vogel, a trial and transactional lawyer in Texas, says, “I believe that Equifax will fight class action lawsuits [and] small claims courts actions. That does not mean that Equifax will prevail, but ... given the scope of the 143 million individuals, it strikes me that Equifax will want to make this as complicated as possible for consumers.”
Regardless, I think we should definitely stand up for this as citizens of the US. Identity theft has been on the rise in past years. Each year seems it gets worse and each year it seems these companies consider our information as secondary importance instead of it being a sense of urgency. If you write a bad check and it overdrafts your account, your bank most likely will forgive you one time each year. But if it’s on a repeated basis, there’s no more forgiving. You will be charged for the applicable fees for over drafting your account. You let one go, you have to let them all go. I say we let none of them go. They make so much money each year, that they should have a sense of urgency with our information that they collect and judge.