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How to protect yourself in the wake of the Equifax data breach

Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus, says their system was compromised between May and July of this year.   The massive breach reportedly includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even driver’s license numbers of over 143 million people.

Aside from the staggering numbers and the mere fact that a credit reporting agency, full of sensitive data, could be hacked in the first place, one should consider the legal ramifications posed by this breach.

  • Waiver of Rights: Equifax’s Terms of Use do not create a waiver of class action rights.
  • Arbitration Clauses: Equifax came under fire for attempting to bind consumers to mandatory arbitration when signing up for the monitoring service — called TrustedID Premier — thereby forcing them to give up their right to join a class-action case.  Equifax has stated enrollment in their monitoring service will not subject an enrollee to mandatory arbitration. According to Equifax, the arbitration clauses originally included in the Terms of Use on the site have now been removed, and the Terms of Use on do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the breach.

From their Terms of Use:  “…the term “Claim” or “Claims” also does not apply to any claim, dispute, or controversy related to the TrustedID Premier product,,, or to the Equifax cybersecurity incident announced on September 7, 2017.”

  • Equifax has agreed to waive fees (typically $10) for placing and removing security freezes through November 21, 2017.   Note that you are still required to pay for security freezes through the other major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian, should you choose to place a freeze via those agencies.
  • Consider filing early:  Filing your 2017 taxes early lessens the chances of someone filing fraudulently on your behalf.  Beat them to it.

As one might guess, it’s important to contact a lawyer before signing any type of contract or document that could be enforced in the courtroom. Why?  The document could prevent thousands to millions of victims from joining the issue, testifying and providing evidence in the future.


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