- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2017

Equifax has updated its terms of service to reflect that customers checking to see if their personal information was compromised in a recently disclosed data breach don’t necessarily waive their right to sue.

As many as 143 million Americans are affected by the data breach disclosed Thursday, according to Equifax, and the company launched a website afterwards, equifaxsecurity2017.com, where customers can find out if they’re included among them. That website made waves in its own right, however, and came under fire early Friday on account of language seemingly excluding users from entering any related class-action lawsuits.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the terms of service “unacceptable and unenforceable,” and said Equifax removed it by mid-afternoon Friday following conversations with his office.

The fine print of the Equifax website where individuals can check to see if they’re affected previously said that users forfeit their right to bring or participant in any class action, whether as a named plaintiff or a class member. The updated version states that “the arbitration clause and class action waiver” applies only to firm’s free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products, “and not the cybersecurity incident.”

The New York Attorney General’s Office is “continuing to closely review” the case, Mr. Schneiderman tweeted afterwards.

Equifax first announced Thursday afternoon that a security incident in May had compromised information including Social Security numbers, home addresses and birth dates concerning more than 140 million Americans, including the credit card numbers of a couple hundred thousand.

The FBI on Friday said its monitoring the breach. Multiple probes into the matter have already been initiated else, meanwhile, including investigations announced Friday by the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the attorneys general of Illinois as well as New York.

“Large-scale security breaches are becoming all too common,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican and committee chairman. “Every breach leaves consumers exposed and vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and a host of other crimes, and they deserve answers.”

At least one class-action lawsuit against Equifax has already been brought in the wake of the credit rater’s announcement. Attorneys filed a civil action complaint in Oregon federal court Thursday evening on behalf of two Equifax customers and have requested the case be granted class-action certification, potentially opening it up to others affected by the breach, USA Today reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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