At least five Utahns are suing Equifax, Inc. for $5 billion after a massive data breach recently gave hackers access to the private information of more than 40 percent of Americans.
In a class-action lawsuit filed in Utah’s U.S. District Court on Monday, plaintiffs say the credit reporting company was aware of a data breach that occurred in July but didn’t make the information public until Thursday, when Equifax announced that as many as 143 million accounts had been “compromised by unauthorized persons,” according to the lawsuit.
People’s names, addresses, Social Security numbers, driver license information and more were exposed during the breach, and Equifax did not implement adequate security measures required by law to safeguard all of that information, the lawsuit says, leaving consumers open to identity theft.
Phone messages requesting comment from Equifax representatives were not returned Monday night.
Victims of the breach will have to spend time and money to repair damage done by identity thieves, the suit says. Additionally, the suit says they will have to worry about ”continuing risks to their personal information” and credit score.
Victims “now face years of constant surveillance of their financial and personal records, monitoring and loss of rights,” the filing says.
The lawsuit says that Equifax should have responded differently by following federal regulations. Specifically, it should have assessed the nature and scope of the breach by identifying which customers’ information was accessed, made notification to authorities ”as soon as possible” and to customers ”when warranted” and taken steps to control the incident further ”by monitoring, freezing or closing affected accounts,” the suit says.
Steven A. Christensen filed the lawsuit and some of the plaintiffs are his children.
The five named plaintiffs are Tom Partridge, Zane L. Christensen, Jennifer J. Christensen, Zachary A. Christensen and Cameron Christensen, though the suit leaves room for up to 143 million more people to join in the class-action suit. Three of the plaintiffs were ”definitely” affected by the breach, and the others are waiting, the attorney said.
This was one of at least 23 class-action lawsuits filed against the company since the breach became public last week, according to USA Today. By late Monday night, Christensen said he’d received about 150 calls of people wanting to join in the suit.
The lawsuit says Equifax’s conduct was negligent and the company engaged in unfair business practices that resulted in an invasion of privacy and breach of contract.
The filing asks a judge to require Equifax to notify people whose information has been compromised and to order the company to “employ adequate security protocols to protect” personal information.
In addition to the $5 billion for damages, plaintiffs also ask that the judge order Equifax to pay for attorney fees, interest and punitive damages.