Better Call Behnken: Local attorney sues Equifax following data breach

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Angry consumers continue to take to social media to complain about the way Equifax is handling a massive data breach.

The credit reporting company announced earlier this month that its system was hacked, resulting in crooks stealing the private information of about 143 million Americans.

There are serious questions about when the company found out about the breach and when it notified consumers. The company admitted it learned of this breach in July. However, the company had a smaller breach in March that was not widely publicized. Some experts say it is believed that the March breach was made by the same intruders who ended up stealing the information of millions of Americans.

Additionally, consumers say they are trying to take advantage of free credit monitoring offered by Equifax to victims. Consumers report getting error messages and are unable to freeze their credit.

Read: Lawsuit filed by Attorney Matt Weidner against Equifax, Inc.

A local attorney, Matt Weidner, has now sued the company, saying he is one of the 143 million affected and that Equifax violated state and federal law by using systems that are not secure and by failing to even talk to consumers. He alleges he was hung up on by a company representative.

“The response from Equifax has been totally horrendous from the beginning,” Weidner said. “It’s horrendous now.”

Following the breach, hackers now have social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, even credit card numbers.

Weidner also said that during his research he found a “work-around” to help consumers bypass the automated system Equifax has set up. Florida law, he said, gives consumers the right to request a credit freeze the old fashioned say, certified mail.

“Equifax and the other credit reporting agencies are required by law to acknowledge receipt of that and then put the freeze in affect,” Weidner said.

Robert Coggin, of Brandon, was furious to find that he among those potential victims.

“They have a huge responsibility, and they clearly failed in this regard,” Coggin said.

In addition to the fear of having personal information in the hands of crooks, consumers are also now dealing with a nightmare of just trying to follow the company’s advice online. They complained to 8 On Your Side that they can’t get a real person on the phone and online forms give them error messages that won’t let them complete the process of applying for free credit monitoring.

“It is clearly their fault that they allowed this to happen and then they offer these mediocre solutions that don’t go anywhere,” Coggin said.

You can find out if your information was compromised by clicking the “potential impact tab” on the Equifax website.

The FTC recommends you enroll in free credit monitoring with Equifax. Also, run a free credit check with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should also consider placing a credit freeze on your files. That makes it harder for a crook to open a new account in your name.

You’ll need to monitor your accounts regularly to look for activity that’s not yours. A credit freeze will not protect accounts that have already been compromised.

 

Equifax sent this statement to 8 On Your Side:

We understand that some consumers are experiencing difficulties getting the answers and support they need through our website and call center. We are listening to concerns raised by consumers and in the media, and continue to work diligently to ensure an improved consumer experience.”

8 On Your Side’s Shannon Behnken is working to get more answers for consumers and find out what you can do to protect your financial identity, despite the frustrating process currently in place at Equifax. See her story today at 5 p.m.

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