National News

Former Georgia governor sues Equifax over massive breach

Posted September 20, 2017 11:25 a.m. EDT

— A former Georgia governor and now practicing attorney Roy Barnes filed a lawsuit against Atlanta-based Equifax following a massive cyberattack impacting millions of Americans.

"It looks like they may have known about it at least by March, and maybe even earlier," Barnes said.

Barnes believes the suit will gain class action status, giving victims of identity theft a method of recourse.

"Now what is going to be the compensation? We don't know yet because we don't know how widely it's used," Barnes said.

The attack exposed personal information like names, addresses, social security numbers and credit card numbers belonging to nearly half of the country's population.

"It is so large with 143 million people. That is more people than voted in the last presidential election," Barnes said.

Equifax brought in cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate and responded to reports of knowing about the hack attack months earlier. An Equifax spokesperson issued the following statement.

"In response to the Bloomberg story attempting to connect two separate Cybersecurity events and suggesting the earlier event went unreported, Equifax offers the following response. Earlier this year, during the 2016 tax season, Equifax experienced a security incident involving a payroll-related service. The incident was reported to customers, affected individuals and regulators. This incident was also covered in the media. The March event reported by Bloomberg is not related to the criminal hacking that was discovered on July 29. Mandiant has investigated both events and found no evidence that these two separate events or the attackers were related. The criminal hacking that was discovered on July 29 did not affect the customer databases hosted by the Equifax business unit that was the subject of the March event."

"I do know this. At least by the end of June, by their own admission, they knew about it. It was September 7 when they told everybody else," Barnes said.

Barnes said if you are a victim of identity theft in this case, you would be automatically included in the class action lawsuit.

Barnes also suggests you freeze your credit, whether you think you're a victim or not. It will not prevent you from using credit, you will just need to get approval each time you do. You can freeze your credit by notifying any of the three major credit bureaus.