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AFR Statement: Equifax Data Breach Underscores Need to Curb Forced Arbitration

Submitted by on September 8, 2017 – 5:05 pm
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 8, 2017

CONTACT
Carter Dougherty
carter@ourfinancialsecurity.org
(202) 869-0397

Arbitration Clauses Block Equifax Victims From Filing Class Actions After Personal Data Stolen

Note: Credit monitoring service Equifax announced late Thursday that sensitive personal information about as many as 143 million of its customers may have been obtained by hackers, including Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and driver license numbers.

“Equifax let thieves steal personal identifying information from more than 100 million Americans. If you want to find out if you were a victim, Equifax invites you to sign up for its TrustedID service. Yet, in one of the most brazen corporate wrongdoer maneuvers in memory, signing up requires you to waive any imaginable claim you might have for TrustedID errors or negligence. On the chance that the waiver is found unconscionable, you still are out of luck. The terms of service force you into individual arbitration – meaning you can’t join with others and can’t avail yourself of the regular court system. Even worse, many of the victims may well be forced into individual arbitration by Equifax’s terms of service. Look up ‘shameless.’ There’s a
new first definition: Equifax.”
Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

“At a moment when a major credit bureau has breached the trust of millions of consumers by
allowing their Social Security numbers to fall into the hands of criminals, Congress should not be
reducing the penalties for credit bureaus that mess up. And yet that’s exactly what a key
congressional committee considered this week when it took up the FCRA Liability
Harmonization Act and the Facilitating Access to Credit Act. Errors by credit bureaus stop
people from getting loans, buying a home or car, renting an apartment or even getting a job.
Consumers need more protection from credit bureaus’ errors, not less.”
Brian Marshall, policy counsel, Americans for Financial Reform

After exposing 143 million people to identity theft, Equifax is offers an identity monitoring service, TrustedID. But buried in the terms of service for Equifax’s TrustedID Premier is a rip- off clause that blocks consumers from joining together in class-action lawsuits against the company. It is despicable that Equifax would exploit consumers’ need for identity theft monitoring to avoid accountability for this devastating breach. Perhaps more despicable, at this very moment, U.S. senators are weighing legislation to take away our right to hold companies like Equifax accountable in court. Repealing crucial consumer protections as new financial scandals break every week would send a clear signal to bad actors like Equifax and Wells Fargo that they can continue to plunder consumers for profit.”
Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager, Public Citizen and Americans for Financial
Reform

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