143 Million American Consumers Exposed In Equifax Hack
On September 7th, Equifax announced that it had been hacked, and in the process, the data of 143 million Americans was exposed. The breach is, as one senator described it, “profoundly troubling,” and highlights numerous issues linked to consumer fraud and protection from consumer fraud.
It also calls into question the process by which companies like Equifax use to notify customers that their personal information has been exposed, and they could be at risk. A breach like this places highly sensitive personal and financial information at risk; yet companies are arguably still not doing enough to ensure that the information is protected, and that consumers are notified in a timely manner if exposed. This is particularly frustrating for consumers given that they arguably have no choice but to keep their information on file with companies like Equifax in order to qualify for a loan, or purchase home, or even obtain a job.
Dangerous Information Stolen & Late Notification
As one of the three major clearinghouses for credit history in general, the hackers gained access to information such as social security numbers, home addresses, and birth dates. Equifax has also revealed that driver’s licenses, credit dispute documents, and credit card numbers for more than 300,000 consumers were simply “lost control of.”
Equifax indicated that the breach began in May and was discovered in late July, but why was it not announced until September? When this type of information is stolen, it is usually for the purpose of committing identity fraud and related crimes. It is indisputable that consumers need to be put on notice for these types of crimes, and an understatement to claim that this type of sensitive information has the potential to be very harmful to those who have been affected by the breach. Still, the company has yet to respond to questions about why it waited so long to announce the breach.
In addition, according to Bloomberg News, three company executives sold large amounts of their shares mere days after the breach was discovered.
It is also important to note that although Equifax is known as a credit reporting agency, it does also sell consumer data, arguably allowing for consumers to be targeted and marketed to. In fact, in 2012, the Federal Trade Commission accused Equifax of inappropriately selling thousands of lists of consumer data to third parties, who then used those lists to pitch loan and debt relief services.
To check whether you were affected by the breach, visit equifaxsecurity2017.com. The company is offering identity theft protection and credit monitoring to anyone who might have been affected and it has reported hiring an independent cyber security research firm to assess the breach.
Experienced Commercial Litigation & Consumer Protection Attorneys
At Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A., our attorneys help consumers address consumer fraud issues that have negatively impacted them. It is important for you to exercise your rights under the federal and state commercial laws that protect you. We have a combined record of over 130 years of protecting consumers in Boca Raton and surrounding areas of Florida. Contact our team of experienced attorneys today for a free consultation, and let us help.