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But visitors quickly pointed out that Equifax’s terms of service include a consumer-unfriendly piece of legalese known as an arbitration clause, which bans parties from joining class action lawsuits.
If a court finds that Equifax was negligently lax with cybersecurity, people bound by the terms might be locked out of benefits, unless they file a new suit.
When the leak was revealed yesterday, Equifax set up a page offering free enrollment in its Trusted ID Premier monitoring service.
The page asks people to enter their name and partial Social Security number to see if they’ve been affected, then tells them to come back after a stated date to enroll in protection.
The company said it took immediate steps to halt the intrusion and hire an independent cybersecurity firm to evaluate the breach and its impact."Because this incident involves a substantial amount of personal identifying information, the investigation has been complex and time-consuming.
As soon as we had enough information to begin notification, we took appropriate steps to do so," Equifax said.
“There would be some room to fight about this in court, but I think that the overwhelming likelihood is that ...
if you sign up for its product, there is a huge chance that you would not be able to be part of any lawsuit involving the data breach,” he says.
However, some consumers complained about delays in getting access to the website and additional delays in formalizing their registrations.
Former federal prosecutor Alex Southwell told CNN that people could join a suit over the original hack even if they waived their right to sue over the monitoring service.
(We’ve reached out to Southwell to clarify how likely this is.) But Paul Bland, executive director of the nonprofit Public Justice Foundation, believes the language is dangerously broad.
That’s because Equifax’s terms of service force users to settle complaints individually, using a common and widely criticized legal clause.
This clause might not apply to the data breach, and Equifax might not intend to enforce it — but its broad ambiguity has legal experts worried.