Small Business Class Action Filed Against Equifax
The Equifax fallout is continuing, with the latest being a class-action suit leveled at the credit rating company representing the interests of small businesses.
The complaint, filed by attorneys with The Doss Firm, argues that an estimated 28 million small business operators in the US face special risk of suffering multiple damages arising from the spectacularly wide-ranging data breach first uncovered in early Sept.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the North District of the Atlanta division, the class action complaint alleges that Equifax unduly put small business operators at risk in terms of the cost of Equifax business reports, the availability of credit and exposure to business identity theft, which often is directly linked for small business owners to their personal credit.
As the complaint notes: "Unlike consumers who are entitled under federal law to obtain one free credit report annually, businesses must pay for their credit reports ($99 from Equifax) … Many of the 143 million individuals whose [personally identifiable information] was hacked are also owners of small businesses that heavily rely on personal and business credit to operate and provide for families across this country."
Attorney Jason Doss added: "This is a real double-whammy situation for small business owners whose access to credit can often live or die in terms of their personal creditworthiness. The breach could either damage the business directly through identify theft or it could cripple access to small business credit by damaging the 'linked' credit of the individual who owns the enterprise."
The complaint also noted that about 60% of small businesses use loans to finance their operations, and use the loan capital for a variety of purposes, ranging from maintaining cash flow and working capital to purchasing equipment and financing real estate purchases. Thus, the ability of small businesses to obtain loans and other forms of credit is dependent on the creditworthiness of the business owner.
“For example, the United States Small Business Administration requires all businesses applying for an SBA loan to submit a personal financial statement for the business owner as part of the loan application process,” the complaint reads.
The plaintiffs named in the complaint include real estate firms, a law firm and a consulting firm, and is entitled “O'Dell Properties, LLC, O'Dell & O'Neal, P.C., Jellie Donuts, LLC, et. al. v. Equifax, Inc.” As a class-action, it seeks to recover damages (including time spent monitoring financial accounts for signs of ID theft or other criminal activities) and legal costs.
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Source: Information Security Magazine