The press is calling it the biggest security breach yet – the personal data of over 143 million consumers was potentially compromised as a result of an electronic security breach at Equifax, one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies.
Equifax has established a website – http://equifaxsecurity2017.com – to allow consumers to search Equifax’s information to see if they were effected by the breach. However, several press outlets have raised questions regarding the reliability of information obtained using Equifax’s website.
Consumers have also complained that Equifax’s website offers impacted consumers the opportunity to sign up for a year of TrustedID Premiere, a credit monitoring service also owned by Equifax. Although Equifax is now offering one year of credit monitoring for free, continued participation in the service after the end of one year will require consumers to pay Equifax’s regular fees for the service. Further, the fine print of the TrustedID Premiere user agreement contains an arbitration clause that could be construed to prevent the consumer from suing Equifax in court. Although at least one State Attorney General in New York has taken the position that this arbitration clause is not sufficient to prevent consumers from suing over the initial breach, it is unclear whether Attorneys General in other states will respond similarly.
A number of press outlets have suggested that consumers place a freeze on their credit. While this may work in the short term for many consumers, it is more than a little inconvenient if you are already in the middle of a major transaction such as purchasing a new home or vehicle.
If you were impacted by the breach, there are a number of practical steps you can take to guard against identity theft resulting from the Equifax breach. These steps include, but are not limited to:
- Freezing your credit for 90 days if your situation will allow.
- Filing your 2017 taxes as early as possible next year if you plan to receive a tax refund. Tax refund fraud is on the rise. Fraudsters can use your social security number and name to file a false tax return and collect your refund early in the season, leaving you without a refund if you file later.
- Researching and selecting from among the various credit-monitoring services available. Several are available at a low annual or monthly cost. Read the fine print carefully, and try to choose one that is not directly owned or operated by any of the “big three” credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian).
We are still getting more information regarding the Equifax breach, and will update this blog post as additional information becomes available.
In the meantime, if you have been impacted by Equifax’s data security breach and would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal rights or determine whether there are legal remedies available to you, please call Abernethy Law’s office at (866) 226-6280 or fill out the contact form below: