After hearing that the recent Equifax data breach might affect as many as eight million New Yorkers, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation. Nationwide, the massive hack might expose sensitive personal data belonging to up to 143 million consumers. Unfortunately, this stolen data includes names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers. Intent on getting to the bottom of the data breach, Schneiderman also gave some advice to New York residents. He encouraged all New Yorkers to “immediately call Equifax to see if their data was compromised and to consider additional measures to protect themselves.” This Attorney General was also one of the first officials to challenge Equifax’s controversial arbitration policy.
Why Equifax Changed the Arbitration Policy Attached to its Free Credit Monitoring Offer
The arbitration policy that Schneiderman and so many others took issue with seemed designed to limit consumer rights. By agreeing to the terms and conditions of the free year of Equifax credit monitoring, consumers initially had to give up the option to sue or join a class action suit against the credit bureau. Almost immediately after reading the arbitration policy, the New York Attorney General published the following Tweet:
“This language is unacceptable and unenforceable. My staff has already contacted @Equifax to demand that they remove it.”
Clearly, Schneiderman was successful because later that day he Tweeted:
“After conversations w my office, @Equifax has clarified its policy re: arbitration. We are continuing to closely review.”
Now, consumers may opt out of the contested arbitration clause if they send a written request to Equifax within 30 days of signing up for the free credit monitoring. It is also worth mentioning that private and class action lawsuits against Equifax are already piling up.
How New York Consumers Can Protect Themselves in the Wake of the Equifax Data Breach
New York consumers can go to www.EquifaxSecurity2017.com to see if they are on the list of those affected by the data breach. Yet, both consumers and experts complain that the site is confusing to navigate. Many of these experts advise all adult U.S. residents with credit reports to just assume that their data is now vulnerable.
With this in mind, all New York residents should go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request copies of their credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should also monitor your banking account and credit card statements daily in order to catch suspicious activity as quickly as possible.
Of course, Equifax now offers a year of its TrustedID credit monitoring product for free to all U.S. consumers. However, if you sign up for this service, make sure to opt out of the arbitration agreement in writing within thirty days. Even if you don’t plan on joining a class action lawsuit right now, you probably don’t want to limit your future options.
A lot of worried New Yorkers are initiating credit freezes through all three major credit bureaus. This is a helpful action because it prevents anyone from taking out new credit in your name. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a new loan or credit card with an active credit freeze either. So, don’t freeze your credit right away if you are planning to finance a home or car soon. It is possible to unfreeze credit, but fees are sometimes charged for freezing and unfreezing credit reports.
What New York Consumers Should do if they Become Victims of Identity Theft
If you spot unauthorized accounts or fraudulent transactions on your credit reports, file a police report. Then, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in New York. Once you do, an experienced identity theft attorney will handle the credit dispute process for you for free.
Our firm also handles credit report errors that are not related to identity theft. Many of these mistakes are significant enough to harm credit scores, but our credit pros remove them. Again, this, like all of our services, costs our clients nothing out of pocket.
Don’t let identity theft damage or errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Carl Schwartz at (646) 859-3045 or sending him a message through our contact page.