Hmm, who could have seen this coming? Less than 24 hours after Equifax revealed that all of its customers’ personal info had been plundered by hackers, the company is facing a multi-billion-dollar consumer lawsuit, and an investigation by at least one state attorney general.
The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in Portland, Oregon federal court. In the suit, users allege that Equifax was negligent in its protection of data, and chose to save money rather than safeguard customer data.
The two initial plaintiffs are Mary McHill and Brook Reinhard, although the entire point of a class-action lawsuit is to get as many affected customers join suit as possible. Now that the initial suit has been filed, attorneys representing the plaintiffs will start looking for more affected customers to sign up — and they won’t have to look far.
Equifax has said that around 143 million customers may have had data stolen as a result of the hack. Details taken include names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and in some cases credit cards and driver’s licenses.
“In an attempt to increase profits, Equifax negligently failed to maintain adequate technological safeguards to protect Ms. McHill and Mr. Reinhard’s information from unauthorized access by hackers,” the lawsuit stated. “Equifax knew and should have known that failure to maintain adequate technological safeguards would eventually result in a massive data breach. Equifax could have and should have substantially increased the amount of money it spent to protect against cyber-attacks but chose not to.”
The case has been filed by Olsen Daines PC along with Geragos & Geragos, a firm founded by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos that now specializes in class-action suits. Ben Meiselas, an attorney at Geragos, said that they’ll be seeking up to $70 billion in damages, which would be the largest class-action suit in US history, according to the firm.
Equifax has clearly been thinking about the potential lawsuit while crafting its response to the data breach. On the website that Equifax made for customers to check if their data has been stolen, just entering your information to check if you’re a victim involves ticking a box that says you won’t sue. That condition is likely unenforceable, but just goes to show how scared Equifax is of the pending legal action.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office has already opened an investigation into the hack. “The Equifax breach has potentially exposed sensitive personal information of nearly everyone with a credit report, and my office intends to get to the bottom of how and why this massive hack occurred,” Schneiderman said in a statement.