Equifax is a provider of consumer credit reports across the United States. It isn’t uncommon to find a mistake on the credit report they provide. For example, it might incorrectly declare you deceased, report your account payments as late, or show incorrect balances and credit limits.
Credit reporting agencies are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which provides guidelines for recourse if these regulations are violated.
Let's consider the top reasons for taking legal action, how this can be initiated, and ultimately what one can expect taking on Equifax in a legal case.
How Do I Sue Equifax?
There are four ways to sue Equifax for their mistakes. Each has certain requirements and limitations.
1) Individual Lawsuit: This is a standard civil lawsuit. Due to the complexity of these cases, you’ll need to work with a lawyer.
2) Class Action: Takes place when a company harms many people in a way that is collectively serious, like the data breach that occurred in 2017. Receiving a benefit will prevent you from having a lawsuit in your personal capacity.
3) Small Claims Court: This court has “limited jurisdiction”. It can only hear civil cases initiated by an individual for claims up to $10,000. Suing Equifax in small claims court limits your potential for damages.
4) Regulatory Action: The Federal Trade Commission may be contacted. Any grievances reported to them for further undertakings will be investigated and actioned. This generally rules out any damages to be claimed, but does ensure legal consequence.
Reasons For Suing Equifax
Before considering how you could potentially file a lawsuit against Equifax, it is important to establish the reason for this action in the first place. The most common reasons for suing Equifax are:
Failed To Investigate A Credit Error
Consumer reporting agencies must investigate a dispute within 30 days of receiving it, and then communicate the results within 5 days of the investigation being completed. If Equifax doesn't resolve the dispute or communicate their investigation results to you, you could be eligible for compensation.
Equifax Incorrectly Reported You As Deceased
Being reported as deceased on your credit report carries several consequences. This can include being denied credit, your accounts being closed, and your credit reduced to zero.
Equifax Has Combined Your File With Another Person’s File, Mixing Up The Information
Information belonging to more than one person is combined in a credit bureau’s database. This means very little to none of your information would be accurate. This might cause situations such as lost job opportunities and failed loan applications. This gives you the right to seek compensation from Equifax.
Equifax Refusal of Victim’s Rights With Identity Theft
Equifax fails to act on the rights of consumers enforced by the FCRA. A victim of identity theft that reports fraudulent activity and no action is taken by Equifax.
A data breach generally takes place when a company is hacked and sensitive data is stolen. This information could be used with criminal intent.
What Damages Can I Expect Suing Equifax?
The damages you can recover serves as a major factor when filing a claim against Equifax. The damages set out below indicate how much you might be able to sue Equifax for. The types of damages could be either wilful or negligent violations of the FCRA, and need to be proved in court.
Wilful Violation Damages:
A credit reporting company intentionally violates the obligations set by the FCRA. You must be able to prove this violation. You could recover:
- Basic damages
- Actual damages (provable with no limit or minimum), or
- Statutory damages between $100 and $1000
If the violator was an individual who lied to get your credit report, or used it for improper purposes, you may potentially recover:
- Actual damages (no limit), or
- $1000 (no-minimum, capped)
- Punitive damages as decided by the court
- Attorney’s fees and costs.
Negligent Violation Damages:
If the mistake occurred because of negligence, which breaches compliance with the obligations in the FCRA, damages recovered may include:
- Actual damage (provable no set limit or minimum)
- Attorney’s fees and costs
Other than TransUnion and Experian, Equifax is one of the biggest consumer reporting agencies in the United States. It is therefore no stranger to legal battles. If you relate to one of the multiple reasons to sue Equifax, yet remain hesitant going solo in the small claims court, Consider our free case review!