Legal Recourse

I've done everything you recommended and I'm still angry. How can Equifax be punished or otherwise held accountable for this catastrophe?

Talk. To. A. Lawyer.

I'm going to hammer this point home several times throughout this page just so there is no confusion about what the contents of this site are meant for.

Everything on this website is for educational purposes only. Nothing here remotely qualifies as a substitute for actual legal advice. 

Your legal recourse comes down to three options: small claims court, personal formal suit, or class action suit. Consult with a lawyer about which choice is best for you, because it comes down to how exactly you were affected by the Equifax hack.

The rest of this page is meant to educate you on the differences between these three options. If you are directly impacted and suffered damages from the Equifax hack, stop reading this now and go talk to a lawyer. You cannot sue a multi-billion dollar company without evidence. Do not attempt to sue a multi-billion dollar company without talking to a lawyer and having a damn good reason to try.

Small Claims

The amount you can sue for in small claims court varies by state and county. The range can be anywhere from $3,500 up to $25,000 depending on where you are.

Pros

  • Most likely to get you a payout
  • Less formal court process
  • Has potential to do the most damage to Equifax if enough people do it.
    • Equifax may not even send a lawyer do deal with it if they are served with enough small claims summons
  • Does not require a  lawyer

Cons

  • Can be a difficult process
  • Costs court fees
  • There is a difference between winning the judgement and collecting on that judgement
  • There is no discovery process

Formal Lawsuit

This would provide the largest personal payout if you win. Remember, you'd be fighting a multi-billion dollar company. No matter how many formal suits against them, they'll have more resources than you to fight back. The payouts for formal suits are large enough for Equifax's legal team to try and prolong these cases for years, financially starving out the vast majority of plaintiffs. 

    Pros

    • Biggest possible personal payout
    • There is a discovery process
    • Will cost Equifax even if they win
    • Collecting on a judgement is a simpler process
    • Less personally intense for you

    Cons

    • Most expensive option
    • Will cost you even if you win.
    • Requires a lawyer
    • You will need a cyber security expert
    • You will need a financial sector expert
    • You will need to prove Equifax is directly responsible for the damages you've incurred
    • You will need to prove Equifax could have done more than they have

    Class Action

    This option is already in the works and most of us will fall into this category. It could cost Equifax somewhere in the $100 million range, which the legal team will get 40%. Then the remaining 60% will be divided up among those who apply to be part of the class action suit. If 10 million people sign up, they'd all get $6.00. Equifax is already prepared to pay this out and it would hurt them less than a mosquito bite if this is the worst consequence they face.

    Pros

    • Easiest for you - just send the lawyers your info when the class action suit is ready
      • A website will probably be set up when this happens in a few months
    • Basically a guaranteed win
    • You'll at least get something out of it

    Cons

    • You'll get a few dollars, at best
    • Equifax won't be affected at all - $100 million is 3.2% of their net gain from 2016
    • You lose the ability to sue them as an individual if you sign on as a member of the class action suit

    Which choice is best for me?

    Talk to a lawyer. Even if you go the route of small claims, consult with a lawyer first.

    Until there's an actual injury, you can't win any lawsuit unless there are statutory damages. You can't just pick a random number and say "I was harmed for this amount."

    No, you can't sue for emotional damages.

    No, you can't get sue for pain and suffering.

    Unless your ID was actually stolen and used to open a line of credit, your best recourse is to join a class action lawsuit.

    Last updated September 18, 2017