The Equifax breach that occurred last July continues to have ramifications for the financial world.
On July 29, 2017, the security staff of Equifax, a company that analyzes business-related data involving more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, discovered that its database had been hacked. After an investigation, the company announced that the hack involved the theft of personal data including credit card, social security and some drivers’ license numbers, birth dates and addresses of about 143 million U.S. consumers.
Individual and class action lawsuits continue to be filed with courts all over the country. Moreover, after the breach, Equifax included on its website a way for customers to check if their data had been stolen. When requesting the information, visitors to the site are encouraged to click a box that says they will not sue. Many lawyers have said that requirement most likely is not enforceable.
In September, two plaintiffs filed an Equifax lawsuit as initial plaintiffs of a class-action lawsuit against Equifax. The plaintiffs are Mary McHill and Brook Reinhard. They claim that Equifax was negligent when it failed to protect the personal information of the plaintiffs from being hacked.
Now the law firms involved in the case, Olsen Daines PC and Geragos & Geragos, are starting to gather other consumers who were affected by the Equifax breach to build up the class action suit.
According to Ben Meielas, an attorney with the Geragos law firm noted that the suit would be seeking up to $70 billion in damages. That would make it the largest class-action lawsuit in the history of the United States.
Two law firms from the Atlanta, Georgia area, Robbins Geller and Hagens Berman, filed a class-action Equifax lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for plaintiffs from 43 states in September. In the suit the plaintiffs claim that Equifax failed to follow simple rules that any credit reporting agency must follow, including protecting the information it collects by maintaining computer and data security, and ensuring that any system vulnerabilities are patched quickly, especially when such patches are free and readily available.
The lawsuit asserts that for two months before the data breach on the Equifax database started; the company was notified of a vulnerability of its software that hackers had been exploiting. Despite widespread press reports of the weakness, Equifax failed to install a patch or take other actions to fix it or take the questionable software offline.
Ars Technica, a website that offers IT news, reviews and analysis, had reported twice in March that websites using Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 software were vulnerable to attack. Equifax was using this software at the time of the breach.
Attorneys General from a number of states have already started to investigate the breach. They include New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman and New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General, James Boffetti, who runs the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Bureau. The bureau has been responding to phone calls on this issue since September 7, 2017. As many as 622,458 residents of New Hampshire may have been affected by the breach.
Although Boffetti claimed that it was too early to start a lawsuit, he noted that 407 other companies had notified the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office that they had also suffered breaches. These companies include Intuit, which revealed that a breach of its database took place on August 15, Velcro, a Manchester, New Hampshire business, reported that its payroll system had been hacked on September 1, and the University of New Hampshire reported a hack that occurred on August 14, 2017.
It has been reported that as many as 143 million U.S. consumers may have been involved in the Equifax breach. If you believe that you are one of those 143 million, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The Eichholz Law Firm has attorneys who are well versed in these types of lawsuits and can give you advice on what you should do if you are caught up in the Equifax breach and how you can get involved in an Equifax lawsuit. Please contact our offices for more information.