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Equifax data breach is even worse than first thought

equifax data breach even worse

In September last year, it was revealed that up to 400,000 people in the UK might have had their personal details stolen when Equifax was hacked by cybercriminals.

Equifax is the second largest credit reference agency in the UK and is used by a wide range of companies to decide whether to issue mortgages, loans, store cards, credit cards, etc. So, even if you are not an Equifax customer, it could still hold a wealth of information about you. That’s why, when it was revealed that hackers had gained access to the private details of Equifax customers (both here and in the US), it was big news.

At the time, it was reported that the stolen data included names, address, dates of birth, and credit card numbers. However, last month it became apparent that the sheer scale of the Equifax breach had gone from bad to worse, with more information stolen than initially reported. In fact, 3,200 passport images were also taken by cybercriminals, despite initial denials from the company.

How can cybercriminals use your private data?  

Along with the original info stolen, our images are considered to be personally identifiable information (PII). PII includes any data that can be used to identify a specific individual, and, if it gets into the wrong hands, it can be used to undertake identity fraud.  For example, with enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.

Signs that criminals have used your data following a data breach include:

  • Bills or emails showing goods or services you haven’t ordered
  • Unfamiliar transactions from your account
  • An unexpected dip in your credit score
  • Unsolicited communications that ask for your personal data or refer you to a web page asking for personal data.

Crucially, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t lost out financially as a result of the hack. A personal data breach is a 21st-century version of being burgled and being the victim of a crime can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. So, if the data breach has caused you stress or anxiety (in a way that could be diagnosed by a psychologist), then the law agrees that you are entitled to compensation.

Holding Equifax to account

While Equifax was the victim of a cyber-attack, it was responsible for protecting your personal information. So, if you have suffered damage or distress caused by this hack, you have a right to claim compensation.

The stolen passport images relate to those individuals already impacted by the breach, so, if you have previously received a letter from Equifax informing you that your data was put at risk, it is vital that you now make a compensation claim and hold them to account.

To make matters worse, not only did Equifax fail to come clean straight away about the scale of the breach, but a former Equifax executive also sold his shares in the company before the news of the hack went public. Earning roughly $1 million in the process, the executive was set to profit at the expense of millions of customers. He has since been charged with insider trading, but his actions reflect a disdain for consumer data protection that is all too common.

With data breaches on the rise, something has to be done to make big companies accountable for these losses, so claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests, it could be the only way to ensure that businesses everywhere implement more secure processes.

What should you do now?

In the UK, investigations into the Equifax data breach are still ongoing, and, we’ve been contacted by hundreds of people worried that their personal data was not looked after as carefully as it should have been.

In response, at Hayes Connor, we are preparing a group litigation action for everyone who has had their data accessed in the Equifax data breach. To become part of this group action, we need you to register with us. This guarantees that you will form part of the compensation claims that will be lodged by us.

While each case is different, we expect to claim £1,000 to £2,500 per person. And, as well as providing no-win, no-fee funding arrangements, we won’t charge you a “success fee”. This means, if you are awarded £1,500, you’ll get all of the compensation. So there are no solicitor’s fees whether you win or lose.

If you have been affected and want to join our group action, register your details here.

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