Among the more than 145 million U.S. consumers whose financial information was exposed in the Equifax hack, some have been able to collect compensation from the company — while others haven’t.
According to a report in The New York Times, the ones who have been able to win against the credit scoring company in court have been able to not only state, but prove, how the data breach hurt them. In some cases that means showing receipts for services they had to purchase because of the breach. They have also researched local laws and have documented everything. One victim who was compensated, Christina Bernstein, received a check for $7,440 and urged victims to take screenshots of everything and to keep records of phone calls. The New York Times noted that at the same time that individuals are trying to get compensated, there are big lawsuits against Equifax — including in United States District Court in Atlanta, where close to 400 lawsuits from thousands of individuals and businesses have been placed in one class action case. That case will take a while — and if Equifax loses, victims probably won’t see a lot in terms of damages after the lawyer fees are reduced and the potential award is split into all the pieces.
Those prospects have prompted some people to go it alone. Take Christian Haigh, the co-founder of Legalist, a startup. He filed a claim in a San Francisco court a few days apart from Bernstein and received his final judgment six months after the breach was disclosed, receiving $5,490. Others have received much less in certain cases, with one judge in Vermont awarding an Equifax victim enough to cover the court costs and identity theft protection for two years instead of five.
Equifax’s data breach, in which sensitive personal information including credit card account information was exposed, is turning out to be the most expensive hack of a corporation ever — it said in March the costs associated with the hack have risen to $275 million. At the time Equifax said the $275 million is in addition to the $164 million in pretax costs it reported for the last six months of 2017. Some of the money to be spent in 2018 for the data breach includes technology and security upgrades, legal fees and free identity theft services for consumers who were impacted by the attack. At the end of 2017, the cost from the data breach was $439 million. Of that, Reuters noted Equifax said $125 million will be covered by an insurance policy.