Credit reporting agency giant, Equifax, was recently hacked revealing the sensitive information of roughly 143 million American consumers. The confidential information exposed includes Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. If you or a loved one have had your private information leaked as a result of this hack, you may be eligible to file a class action lawsuit against Equifax. At Downtown LA Law Firm, our well-versed Equifax data breach attorneys can guide you through the complicated process of filing a lawsuit for having your information exposed, and your identity was stolen. If you have any questions after this article, please feel free to contact our law offices for a free consultation by one of our associates.
Equifax: The Company
Equifax is one of three large consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States. The two that hold the position along Equifax are Experian and Transunion. Equifax was founded in 1899 and is the oldest of the three agencies. Equifax currently owns the information of over 800 million consumers and more than 88 businesses worldwide. On September 7th, 2017, it was reported that Equifax had come under cyber attack resulting in the theft of the personal information of roughly 143 American consumers. This private information included things like names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances driver’s license numbers. Anyone who had their information accessed as a result of the Equifax cyber attack could face identity theft. Identity theft is a truly devastating financial injury that is described as the fraudulent acquisition and use of an individual’s private identifying information, usually for the sake of financial gain. Listed below are some of the damages associated with identity theft:
- Hurt Job Prospects: Employers nowadays regularly check an individual’s credit history when assessing job candidates. A report that is littered with ID theft related errors could ruin your application. While it is illegal for an employer to refuse anyone work for their credit reports directly, they could still refuse you work indirectly.
- Cause Auto Insurance Rates To Rising: Almost all auto insurers use credit scores to set rates, wherever it is legal. (Some states ban the practice of it). A low credit score can cause premiums to rise. Insurers cannot directly reject you because of your credit score. However, they can use the score to offer higher rates without explaining as to why.
- Surprise Tax Bills: Some identity theft can involve the stealing of only a Social Security Number. Through just a Social Security Number, the thieves can use a victim’s Social Security Number to work without discovery, pay their bills and pay their taxes. If the thief fails to pay these, the debt is not on them; it’s on the victim.
- Impact Social Security Income Credits: The theft of a Social Security number could keep a victim from applying for Social Security Income Benefits
- Slow Down Tax Refunds: According to the Treasury Department, 1.6 million taxpayers were impacted by identity theft in the first six months of 2013. In turn, the IRS has stepped up its anti-ID theft efforts, and as a result has slow down the tax returns of legitimate taxpayers.
- Left with Criminal Record: Perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of identity theft, criminal identity theft involves a convicted criminal using the identity of another individual to get away from another serious conviction and to clear their names of the crimes they had been convicted for.
- (Virtually) Kill You: Some Identity thieves will take the information of another and label themselves as dead to avoid creditors. The Social Security Administration wrongly declares roughly 14,000 people dead every year.
- Receive Wrong Treatment At Hospital: Medical Identity Theft can take on many forms, but the most common are criminals trying to take money through a Doctor creating fake patients and filing fake claims.
- Keep Children From Getting Financial Aid: The Identity Theft of children can be incredibly devastating, as in some cases it can go undetected for years. One of the main ways, children, discover they have had their identity stolen from them is when they fill financial aid forms which check applicants for signs of a poor credit history. If they find a poor credit history it is likely they will refuse loaning a potential student the money they need.
Regardless of how you were damaged by identity theft, if it was caused by the Equifax hack, you are entitled to collect a claim for monetary compensation. Those damaged by the Equifax hack can collect compensation through the filing of a class action lawsuit. However, regardless of how you experienced identity theft, there are some steps you can take to ensure that the damages are contained. These steps are listed below:
- Notify affected creditors or bank
- Put a fraud alert on your credit report
- Check your credit reports
- Consider putting a credit freeze on your reports
- Contact the FTC
- Go to the police
- Send creditors a copy of your ID theft report
- Contact credit reporting agencies
- Change all account passwords
- Contact the Social Security fraud hot line
- Get a new driver’s license
- Contact your telephone and utility companies
Once these steps have been taken it is in your best interest to consult an attorney to sue Equifax or any other liable credit company for the damages that you have sustained.
Filing a Lawsuit
The Equifax cyber security breach involved approximately 143 million Americans. With the number of victims being so great, those hoping to receive restorative justice may find that the best way to receiving compensation is through a class action lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one in which a group of individuals with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action file a lawsuit as a single body. Listed below are some of the different forms a class action lawsuit can take:
- Employees that experience a pattern or practice of racial, age, or gender discrimination by their employer
- Home or business owners that are affected by a corporate caused environmental disaster.
- Patients that are prescribed a medication that has a dangerous side effect that the manufacturer was aware of and failed to disclose
- Consumers and small business owners who paid an inflated price for a product after a group of corporations conspired to fix prices
- Investors who lost their savings due to securities fraud committed by senior executives of a publicly traded company
- Individuals who had their private communications recorded by a corporation without their knowledge or authorization
Any of these previously mentioned reasons would make for a successful class action lawsuit, however, in regards to this article, a class action lawsuit for the Equifax incident would fall under the theft of private information. Class action lawsuits have their pros and cons. For instance, class action lawsuits often cost far less in legal fees, making it easier for the average consumer to file a lawsuit. On the other hand, the compensation from class action lawsuits has diminished returns as the compensation amount is spread over a large number of individuals. Filing a class action lawsuit can be a challenging process and shouldn’t be handled alone. This is particularly true of a lawsuit filed against Equifax, as large companies have the resources to hire a whole team of legal experts to dispute your claims. For this reason, it is vital that you have a skilled Equifax data breach lawyer on your side.
How Downtown LA Law Firm Can Help
Having a skilled attorney on your side can mean the difference between filing a successful claim for compensation and having your case dismissed from court entirely. If you file your case with our Los Angeles law firm you may find some if not all of the following damages compensable:
- Past & Future Medical Expenses
- Loss of Wages
- Loss of Potential Future Wages
- Emotional Damages (i.e., anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc…)
- Pain & Suffering
- Punitive Damages
If you or a loved one has been faced financial damages as a result of the recent Equifax security breach our Los Angeles attorneys can help you figure out what to do next, and how best to pursue legal action. At Downtown LA Law Firm, our team of well versed legal consultants is committed to ensuring all of our clients have the resources they need to fight and win their case. As a show of our commitment to you and your case, we offer each of our clients the benefits of a zero fee guarantee policy. Under this zero fee policy, all clients don’t pay for our services until their case is won. If you feel in need of a second opinion, second opinion case reviews are also free under this policy. Call our law offices today for a free consultation by one of our skilled attorneys, and we can discuss the incident, your damages, and the path to receiving proper compensation for your damages.