UPDATE: The Hannon Law Firm Has Filed A Class Action Against Equifax On Behalf Of Coloradans
It’s been reported that Equifax, the giant consumer credit reporting company, has suffered one of the largest data breaches on record. As many as 143 million American’s personal information, including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some drivers licenses, has been accessed by cyber criminals between mid-May and July. In addition, credit card numbers of around 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information of around 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed.
Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies that track and rates the financial history of U.S. consumers. The companies are supplied with data about loans, loan payments and credit cards, as well as information on everything from child support payments, credit limits,missed rent and utilities payments, addresses and employer history, which all factor into credit scores.
Criminals may try to create a digital version of you, using your credentials, and secure credit, positions, or even commit crimes. The exposure and criminal access to your personal information can have serious, and possibly permanent effects on your ability to obtain credit, buy a house, or get a job.
For more information, or if you’ve been affected by this breach, please call our office at 303-861-8800 or fill out the form below.
WHEN DID THE EQUIFAX BREACH HAPPEN?
Equifax claims that based on its investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. During this time, criminals “exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”
WHEN DID EQUIFAX KNOW ABOUT THE BREACH?
Equifax has acknowledged that it discovered the unauthorized access on July 29, 2017, but delayed notification of the data breach to consumers.
WHAT INFORMATION WAS COMPROMISED IN THE EQUIFAX BREACH?
The access information primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances driver’s license numbers. Additionally, Equifax has admitted that credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personally identifiable information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed.
WHAT IS PII?
PII stands for personally identifying information. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) defines describes “identifying information” as “any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific person.”
HOW DOES THE BREACH AFFECT CONSUMERS?
As a result of the Equifax Data Breach, the PII of consumers has been exposed to criminals for misuse. The injuries suffered, or likely suffered, as a direct result of the Equifax data breach include:
- Unauthorized use of their PII
- Theft of their personal and financial information
- Costs associated with the detection and prevention of identity theft and unauthorized use of their financial accounts
- Damages arising from the inability to use their PII
- Loss of use of and access to their account funds and costs associated with inability to obtain money from their accounts or being limited in the amount of money they were permitted to obtain from their accounts, including missed payments on bills and loans, late charges and fees, and adverse effects on their credit including decreased credit scores and adverse credit notations
- Costs associated with time spent and the loss of productivity or the enjoyment of one’s life from taking time to address and attempt to ameliorate, mitigate and deal with the actual and future consequences of the Data Breach, including finding fraudulent charges, purchasing credit monitoring and identity theft protection services, and the stress, nuisance and annoyance of dealing with all issues resulting from the Equifax Data Breach
- The imminent and certainly impending injury flowing from potential fraud and identify theft posed by their PII being placed in the hands of criminals and already misused via the sale of Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ information on the Internet black market
- Damages to and diminution in value of their PII entrusted to Equifax for the sole purpose of purchasing products and services from Equifax
- The loss of Plaintiff’s and Class members’ privacy
I’VE NEVER DONE BUSINESS WITH EQUIFAX – COULD I STILL BE AFFECTED?
Unlike other data breaches, not all of the people affected by the Equifax breach may be aware that they are customers of the company. Equifax gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders how report on the credit activity of individuals to credit reporting agencies, as well as by purchasing public records.
HOW DO I KNOW IF SOMEONE HAS STOLEN MY INFORMATION?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says these are clues that someone has stolen your information:
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
However, there may be a time lag between when harm occurs versus when it is discovered and also between when PII is stolen and when it is used. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) which conducted a study regarding data breaches:
“[L]aw enforcement officials told us that in some cases, stolen data may be held for up to a year or more before being used to commit identity theft. Further, once stolen data have been sold or posted on the Web, fraudulent use of that information may continue for years. As a result, studies that attempt to measure the harm resulting from data breaches cannot necessarily rule out all future harm.’
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has significant expertise in prosecuting class actions for recovering damages for harm caused to large numbers of persons. We have successfully certified, and taken to trial or settled class actions in Missouri, Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin. We are licensed in Colorado, District of Columbia, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
If you believe you’ve been affected by the Equifax data breach, we are here to help. You can call our office at 303-861-8800 or fill out the form below.