Equifax faces up to $70 billion lawsuit for data breach

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A class-action lawsuit was filed against Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) Thursday after the company had reported a data breach hack that potentially affected private and secured information of nearly 143 million people. The lawsuit could potentially seek up $70 billion.

The complaint, which was filed in Portland, OR, federal court, states that Equifax was negligent in failing to protect consumer data, and disregarding consumer safety in order to save money. The data breach leaked consumer’s identification such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s licenses. In some cases, credit cards information were also leaked.

Equifax claimed on its statement that the company discovered the breach back on July 29 and acted immediately to stop the hack. The company didn’t announce the breach until months later to consumers.

The lawsuit is being carried out by plaintiffs, Mary McHill and Brook Reinhard, who had used Equifax.

“In an attempt to increase profits, Equifax negligently failed to maintain adequate technological safeguards to protect Ms. McHill and Mr. Reinhard’s information from unauthorized access by hackers,” the complaint stated. “Equifax knew and should have known that failure to maintain adequate technological safeguards would eventually result in a massive data breach. Equifax could have and should have substantially increased the amount of money it spent to protect against cyber-attacks but chose not to.”  

Along with the lawsuit, it has also raised public attention when it was reported that three Equifax executives, John Gamble, Rodolfo Ploder and Joseph Loughran, had sold their shares prior to the data hack, according to the SEC.

The total shares sold between the three valued at nearly $1.8 million back in early August. It was reported by Bloomberg that Gamble sold shares worth $946,374. Loughran sold shares worth $584,099. Ploder sold shares worth nearly $250,458.

Equifax spokesperson told The Guardianand Gizmodo that the executives had “no knowledge” of the breach at the time they sold their shares. Equifax also declined to respond to comment regarding the lawsuit.

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