Equifax is feeling the consequences following its disclosure of a data breach that impacted around 143 million US consumers. More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against the company, and at least one of them accuses it of securities fraud, according to Reuters.
The fact Equifax took so long to reveal the hack - the firm learned about it on July 29 – has added to the ire of those affected. The three executives who sold $1.8 million worth of shares days after the breach was discovered hasn’t helped the company’s tarnished image, either.
The credit reporting firm’s response to the crime, which includes offering one year of free credit monitoring to those affected, has led to some of the lawsuits. One California suit claims Equifax may use the TrustedID free offer to pitch more expensive products in the future. It cites the company’s own regulatory filing in which Equifax said more firms use low-cost services “as a means to introduce consumers to premium products and services.”
As for the securities fraud suit, Equifax has been accused of misleading shareholders about its ability to protect consumer data, as well as inflating its financial statements and share price before the breach was revealed.
While more people will no doubt join the class action against Equifax, expect an increasing number of lawsuits to appear in small claims courts, especially as there’s a chatbot that can help you through the procedure.
The DoNotPay bot was known for helping people with unfair parking fines, but in July it expanded to offer AI-based legal counseling to 1,000 different areas of law in all 50 US states and across the UK.
The Verge reports that creator Joshua Brown – one of those affected by the Equifax breach – has updated the bot so users can sue the firm for maximum damages, which range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee.
Equifax's share price has fallen 20.7 percent in the days since it disclosed the breach, reducing the company's market value by more than $3.5 billion.