As one of the three leading consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax Inc. is based in the U.S. and provides credit reporting for customers both in the United States and throughout the world (together known as the ‘Big Three’). In addition to aggregating information on almost eight hundred million individual customers and about. close to ninety million enterprises globally, Equifax also collects financial and personal data on the majority of the U.S. population. While the company also offers credit monitoring and fraud protection services directly to customers, it also sells credit and demographic data as well as provides assistance to businesses.
[1.0] WHAT DOES EQUIFAX DO
A credit bureau is a data-gathering organization that acquires and accumulates different creditors’ information, which is then sent to a consumer reporting agency in the US, a credit reference agency in the UK, a credit reporting body in Australia, and a credit information company (CIC) in India. A credit rating agency is not the same as a credit-reporting agency.
Equifax is a prominent credit-reporting bureau, alongside Experian and TransUnion. In fact, the credit reports from Equifax are quite comparable to the credit reports customers get from Experian, as well as the overall look and feel of those reports. According to Equifax, their reports are both informative and simple to understand. As one of the nation’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax maintains offices in countries across the world. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. The company derives its headquarters from Atlanta, Georgia. As mandated by U.S. law, the firm provides one free credit report to each customer each year.
Five years ago, if a borrower who cleared a credit card bill overdue applied for a loan, that borrower’s Equifax record would cause a lender to find out exactly when the late payment was made even today. Debts held by collection agencies and liens against the borrower’s assets are included in the report as well.
Equifax only gives numerical scores, which range from 280 to 850. FICO does this same calculation with the same criteria, however, their equation is not the same as Equifax’s. Overall, it is difficult to distinguish between the similarities of Equifax and Experian since both reports from the bureau are thorough and pride themselves on providing lenders with a lot of additional information about a borrower’s spending patterns compared to simply a number.
[2.0] WHAT DOES THE DISCLOSURE OF INVESTIGATIVE CONSUMER REPORTS ENTAIL
No individual can procure or influence the preparation of an investigative consumer report on any consumer unless [A.] it is clearly and accurately disclosed to the consumer that an investigative consumer report including information as to their character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living may be made, and [B.] such disclosure is made in a writing mailed or otherwise delivered, to the consumer. This disclosure should not be done later than three days after the date on which the report was first requested and includes a statement informing the consumer of his right to request the additional disclosures and the written summary of the rights of the consumer prepared as per Georgia Process Service guidelines.
Any person who procures or causes to be prepared an investigative consumer report on any consumer must – upon written request made by the consumer within a reasonable period of time after the receipt by them of the disclosure- make a complete and accurate disclosure of the nature and scope of the investigation requested. This disclosure shall be made in a writing mailed or delivered, to the consumer at a maximum of five days after the date on which the request for such disclosure was first put forward according to Georgia Process Service regulations.
A consumer reporting agency cannot prepare or furnish an investigative consumer report unless the agency has received a certification from the person who requested the report. Further, it is not the responsibility of a consumer reporting agency to make an inquiry for the purpose of preparing an investigative consumer report on a consumer for employment purposes if the making of the inquiry by an employer or prospective employer of the consumer would violate any applicable Federal or State equal employment opportunity law or regulation.
It must be known that information of public record cannot be included in a report unless while verified during the thirty-day information-gathering period. Further, a consumer reporting agency cannot prepare or furnish an investigative consumer report on a consumer that contains information that is adverse to the interest of the consumer and that is obtained through a personal interview with a neighbor, friend, or associate of the consumer, unless [A.] the agency has followed reasonable procedures to obtain confirmation of the information, from an additional source that has independent and direct knowledge of the information; or [B.] the person interviewed is the best possible source of the information
[3.0] COURT ACTIONS ON EQUIFAX
Equifax is a consumer reporting agency as defined by 15 U.S.C. §1681a(f) and conducts substantial and regular business activities in other judicial districts for Georgia Process Service purposes. Equifax is a Georgia-based corporation registered to do business in that particular state and may be served for purposes of Georgia Process Service upon the Corporation Service Company, its registered agent for Process Service. The entity itself is a consumer reporting agency regularly engaged in the business of assembling, evaluating, and disbursing information concerning consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports.
Within twenty-one days after Georgia Process Service (service of the summons) on the corporation or its registered agent (not counting the day the corporation or agent received it,) the entity must return Georgia Process Service to the plaintiff via an answer to the attached complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The answer or motion must be served on the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney.
- What are court actions?
Court actions are a record of any action taken by the court such as a writ or summons that is related to the outstanding debt. Court data is provided to Equifax daily, weekly, and monthly and this is then updated directly into the bureau. It is the responsibility of the courts to provide us with this data while ensuring that this information is kept accurate, up to date, and complete.
[4.0] HOW TO SERVE A SUBPOENA ON EQUIFAX
Subpoenas may be served according to Georgia Process Service guidelines on Equifax, Inc. It is important to address the legal papers accurately since Equifax itself has multiple entities even within Georgia. Essentially, the branch will accept Georgia Process Service as done to the care of the Custodian of Records, wherein subpoenas may be accepted by mail or fax. It must be known that mail service is not acceptable. Further, Georgia Process Service information may be procured by contacting Equifax over the phone. A subpoena can also be faxed to Equifax, as long as it is not served by mail.
It is always important to adhere to Georgia Process Service guidelines, which would include identifying the available means of service and the appropriate address of the entity. It is necessary for every legal subpoena to include the identity of the court from which the subpoena was issued as well as the identity of the court in which the underlying action is pending, complete with a proper citation of the title of the action and the civil action number for adequate Georgia Process Service. Equifax does not demand personal service.
[5.0] HOW TO FILE A CLAIM AGAINST EQUIFAX
During the period from October 2012 to September 2017, more than 57,000 consumers filed consumer complaints against Equifax with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, citing a number of issues with erroneous, outdated, or misattributed information the firm maintained.
Nearly a hundred and fifty million clients of Equifax, Inc. (EFX) were impacted by a security compromise that happened between the middle of May and the end of July. The number was revised on March 1, 2018, when the business discovered an additional two million people who were impacted by the hacking. In the 2017 Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal data of close to a hundred and fifty million people, individuals’ Social Security numbers, as well as driver’s license information, was compromised. As a result of the incident, Equifax agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to assist the customers impacted. According to court papers, there were at least 15 million claims made by the beginning of December, with many weeks remaining for claimants to make new claims. The customers whose credit card details were revealed by Equifax were on par with the number of dispute papers containing the personal information of American consumers that were hacked. It is also conceivable that some Canadians may have been impacted by the incident, while British consumers are also affected by the breach.
Anyone who would want to pursue an initial claim against the Equifax data breach settlement had to file their claim no later than January 22, 2020. However, further challenges to the settlement’s approval prolonged the payout schedule, and appeals to the approval of the settlement can impact benefits. This meant that everyone who had not filed a claim in the first round was encouraged to look out for identity theft connected to the breach (with those who did have filed claims also looking out for identity theft) for compensation for a claim that is valid until 2024, adhering to appropriate filing and Process Service requirements.
Settlement administrator JND Legal Administration was in charge of examining and validating claims. an impartial person tasked with ensuring a court-approved settlement is followed precisely. To check the progress of the claim, the individual must go to the Claimant Portal website and input the claim number. In the event, the individual sought payment for time spent recovering from fraud or ID theft, and they supplied said banking information, the claimant should expect to receive a check or debit card in the mail. A sum of USD 31 million was set aside for these kinds of claims. It must be noted that amount each individual receives will be lowered correspondingly if the number of legitimate claims is greater. Based on the number of claims submitted, it seems that the expected benefits are likely to be less than the maximum benefit that is available.
However, even if the individual missed the January 22nd deadline, if the person were impacted by the Equifax data breach, they may seek reimbursement for valid Out Pocket losses or Time Spent (excluding losses of money and time associated with freezing or unfreezing credit reports or purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection) incurred during the Extended Claims Period if they have not received reimbursement for the claimed loss through other means.
To be eligible, the claim for Out-of-Pocket Losses or Time Spent must occur between January 23, 2020, and January 22, 2024 (the ‘Extended Claims Period’).` Experian provides identity restoration services to anyone who has been impacted by the breach for seven years after the identity theft. Firms, government entities, and credit bureaus are just a few of the companies that can be approached in the pursuit of identity restoration services.
Finally, all U.S. citizens, including those who were not victims of the compromise, will be given six free credit reports each year for the next seven years. One should be submitting requests for free credit reports from the credit agencies on a regular basis. Additionally, customers may use a personal finance website, a bank, or a credit card provider to check current credit.
To summarise, the settlement has established a claims period beyond the erstwhile January 22nd deadline. If one were a victim of the breach, further advantages are available. An individual may verify whether they are part of the settlement via the settlement website. Out-of-pocket costs and time spent addressing fraud or identity theft resulting from the breach are included in the extended benefits. No reimbursement is granted for time and money spent preserving the individual’s credit, however. Jan. 22, 2024, is the deadline by which claims must be lodged. First-come, first-served claims will be paid and information about individual accounts is shared with the credit bureaus whenever they use credit products such as auto loans, credit cards, or a mortgage.
For more information on serving legal papers, contact a Georgia Process Service (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating. Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us! We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.
1. How are FICO Scores Calculated? myFICO, https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/whats-in-your-credit-score#:~:text=FICO%20Scores%20are%20calculated%20using,and%20credit%20mix%20(10%25). (last visited Jun 5, 2021)
2. 15 U.S.C. § 1681d](a)
3. Pursuant to section 609(c) [§ 1681g
4. That relates to an arrest, indictment, conviction, civil judicial action, tax lien, or outstanding judgment
5. Or with another person with whom the consumer is acquainted or who has knowledge of such item of information
6. 15 U.S. Code § 1681a – Definitions; rules of construction
(f)The term ‘consumer reporting agency’ means any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.
7. Said term is defined under 15 U.S.C. §1681(d) to third parties.
8. This limitation is sixty days if the entity served is the United States or a United States agency, or an officer or employee of the United States described in Fed. R. Civ.P. 12 (a)(2) or (3)
9. Phone: 404-885-8362
10. Fax: 888-826-0692
11.Address for Process Service
211 Perimeter Center Pkwy #300
Atlanta, GA 30346
Ph: (678) 795-7972
Fx: (678) 795-7954
12. ATTN: Custodian of Records
P.O. Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139
13. Ng, Alfred (September 7, 2018). ‘How the Equifax hack happened, and what still needs to be done. CNet.
14. ‘Failure to patch two-month-old bug led to massive Equifax breach’. Ars Technica. September 14, 2017.
15. JND Featured in The New York Times as Administrator for Equifax Data Breach Settlement, https://www.jndla.com/news/equifax-data-breach-settlement
16. Equifax to Pay at Least $650 Million in Largest-Ever Data Breach Settlement The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/22/business/equifax-settlement.html