About 30 lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Equifax. This is coming after the credit reporting company said that thieves may have stolen personal information for 143 million Americans, in what might be the worst hack ever. It’s definitely not the largest from a numbers perspective, but it is the worst in terms of the type of data that was stolen. As of Sunday, at least 25 lawsuits have been filed in federal courts, including at least one accusing the company of securities fraud. This is literally a hay day for lawyers. Several more were filed on Monday. Many of which are raising similar claims that will likely end up being combined into a single, nationwide case.
Equifax disclosed the breach last Thursday, but said they learned about the hacking on July 29. Which means, this information wasn’t released for almost 6 weeks after it occurred. Leaving a lot of people vulnerable. Equifax has set up procedures that they are saying are intended to help people protect their Social Security numbers and other identifying information. But if you opt into that program, you can’t file a lawsuit against them. Which is understandable, if you’re Equifax. You don’t want to take the potentially large scale heat for this one. But man up. You literally screwed up, big time, and now you’re saying that people can’t sue you if they want your help?
One complaint filed in San Jose, California suggested that Equifax might use this to lay a foundation to pitch costlier services. It cited a February 22 regulatory filing in which Equifax said that more companies are now offering free or low cost services, such as credit scores, reports and monitoring “as a means to introduce consumers to premium products and services”. Which is kind of shady, but it’s also something that a lot of companies do, so how would this be any different?
Equifax’s share prices dropped 8.2% or $10.11 on Monday. But it’s fallen 20.7% since disclosing the breach on September 7th. If you read my previous post on this, you might remember that some of the executives were “allowed’ to sell their shares towards the end of July. Which was just days after the company found out about the breach. This sounds even more suspicious when we see how much their share prices are dropping.
I’d like to go back to how they are handling the credit monitoring for a moment. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring, but they won’t allow you to then turn around a file a lawsuit against them. On one hand, this makes sense to me. They’re giving you something (for nothing). But on the other hand, it’s their fault that this has even happened, so to remove the lawsuit stipulation is kind of a shitty thing to do. While I’m not suggesting that this happened, but let’s say that this was an “inside job”. In theory, they can give away your information and then provide you with a free service to ensure that the information given away, doesn’t cause you any issues?
Again, I’m not suggesting that Equifax did this intentionally. I don’t believe that to be the case. But you can see the point I’m making with this, I hope. Which is that it’s ridiculous. People didn’t ask to have their information stolen. They put their trust in Equifax, only to have that trust broken. I get it, accidents happen. But this is the kind of accident that Equifax should be bending over backwards to rectify. Not taking people’s choices away from them while.