If your data was compromised in the Equifax breach, here’s how you can sue

HOLD FOR JENNY KANE In this Saturday, July 21, 2012, photo Equifax Inc., offices are seen, in Atlanta. Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the United States. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

By Nicole Carr, WSBTV.com

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Two class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of customers affected by a massive breach at Equifax.

RELATED: People want to know why Equifax executives sold stock before the public knew of a breach

Officials with the Atlanta-based credit reporting and technology company said a “cyber security incident” may have exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.

The data that might have been accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has partnered with a Florida firm for a class-action lawsuit.

“This is not a windfall thing. These are real damages and real fears that folks have,” he said. “There’s no telling, but I guarantee you most of this information was auctioned off in just a matter of hours.”

Barnes said that if you’ve been compromised, you are automatically a part of the class-action suit unless you opt out.

“You don’t have to do anything. We have class representatives and there will come a time when we’ll contact folks,” he said.

He said he is going after what it takes to make things right.

“What the money should be is what is necessary to hire someone to straighten out your credit so that you don’t disrupt your life forever,” he said. “And some money for the fact that [Equifax] negligently, and in violation of several federal statutes, allowed for this information to get out.”

Barnes said among many demands is that Equifax have its security audited, tested and trained, and that the company purges information it doesn’t need.

WSB-TV‘s Nicole Carr visited the Clark Howard Consumer Action Center, where volunteers have received nearly three times their normal call volume with concerns about Equifax.

Volunteers said more than 500 calls came in Wednesday, and 99 percent of them were about Equifax.

“I’ve been here for 20 years. This is the busiest day we’ve had,” said Consumer Action Center volunteer Lori Silverman.

She said volunteers are working to ease fears about the data breach.

“Because 140 million people are trying to freeze their credit, the sites are crashing, and they’re unable to thaw their credit. That’s a difficult situation to be in,” she said. “We’re recommending [everyone] hang tight. Hopefully, all of the hysteria will slowly go away, and within the next couple of weeks, you’ll be able to freeze your credit.”

The Consumer Action Center recommends you freeze your credit through Credit Karma. Equifax has rescinded fine print that kept consumers from suing them if they signed up for their free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.

“Now they say they’re backing off of that, but I would advise everybody: Do not interact with Equifax right now,” Barnes said.

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