Equifax breach: 2 Canadian class-action lawsuits seeking financial damages

ABOVE: Equifax reportedly had two months to prevent its massive data breach, but failed to install a software fix.

Months after the financial details of 8,000 Canadians were compromised in the Equifax breach, two class-action lawsuits are duelling to seek financial damages.

The lawsuits were put forward in September; both of them seek financial damage from Equifax Canada. But only one can proceed.

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A judge is now weighing the merits of the two proposed lawsuits and should make a decision sometime in December.

On Sept. 7, Equifax first notified the public that it fell victim to a massive cyberattack around May 13 to July 30. Equifax’s security team caught the hack on July 29 but did not inform its customers until September.

Hackers were able to get consumers’ names, social insurance numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card information and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.

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WATCH: Massive cyber-attack at Equifax could leave millions vulnerable

Massive cyber-attack at Equifax could leave millions vulnerable
Massive cyber-attack at Equifax could leave millions vulnerable

The company previously estimated that 143 million Americans and 100,000 Canadians could have had their personal information compromised. In October, the number of Canadians impacted by the breach fell to 8,000.

Two lawsuits files

“We’re not taking Equifax’s word that only 8,000 people were affected,” Jean-Marc Leclerc of Toronto-based law firm Sotos LLP said. “That’s why we’re filing a class action lawsuit against them.”

“We launched a class action suit when the hack was originally revealed, but at that point, we didn’t know how many people were impacted,” he said. “Now people are starting to get letters from Equifax Canada, and we’re getting a whole bunch of calls from people who are really worried about their future.”

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The lawsuit, represented by Sotos, is seeking $550 million in damages on behalf of Canadian victims of the Equifax hack.

The proposed lawsuit is also seeking a court order requiring Equifax to notify any Canadians whose information was stored on Equifax databases and was accessed without authorization.

Right now Canadians can only find out if their data was breached if they receive a letter from Equifax in the mail.

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Citizen activist group sends ‘Monopoly Guy’ to Equifax hearing
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The letter details the breach and also offers complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for one year.

“This is a joke as many people do not trust Equifax now,” Leclerc said.

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“Equifax should have been the Fort Knox of computer systems. And these guys were buffoons when it came to meeting basic computer security. This is the route of why so many people are upset,” he said.

Merchant Law Group is the other law firm that has filed a class action lawsuit against Equifax. The company says it is seeking compensation and wants to punish Equifax monetarily in an effort to make sure the company does not make the mistake again.

READ MORE: Equifax data breach catches attention of Canada’s privacy commissioner

“We’ve had 3,000 people contact us so far wondering if they are impacted by the breach, and we’re expecting that number to rise,” Tony Merchant of Merchant Law Group said.

Are you part of the class action lawsuit?

No matter what class action lawsuit goes forward, both seek to protect those impacted by the breach.

Leclerc said if your personal information was accessed by hackers then you are automatically part of (either) of the class action lawsuit — unless you take steps to opt out.

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“Payment will go towards anyone whose personal information was affected,” Leclerc said. “The goal is to punish Equifax for its behaviour.”

If you’re wanting to get more information on the lawsuit and stay updated you can head to Sotos or Merchant Law Group.

READ MORE: Equifax CEO retires in wake of damaging cyberattack

Global News reached out to Equifax Canada but did not hear back at the time of publication.

At least 30 class action lawsuits have also been filed against the credit reporting company in the U.S.