Looks like Lifehacker may be slipping… the typo was tacky but the potentially bad life advice was, well, potentially pretty bad… Lifehacker just published an article on what to do if you believe you may have been affected by the Equifax hack. In addition to claiming that there were 143,000 (as opposed to 143 MILLION) accounts breached, they are advising readers to sign up for the Trusted ID "free service" to find out if they were affected by the breach as well as to monitor their credit for possible identity theft. Despite <a href="http://archive.is/F34va">Lifehacker's</a> assurance that Equifax is to be trusted,
<a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-some-equifax-customers-have-unwittingly-waived-their-rights-to-a-class-action-lawsuit-2017-09-08"><i>MarketWatch</i></a> and others are advising caution.
<quote>"If you were one of the hundreds of thousands that are impacted by the attack, then you have to figure out what to do next."</quote>
<h4><strong>Try hundreds of MILLIONS</h4></strong>
Ironically, the mandatory arbitration clause was literally in <strong>BLOCK PRINT!</strong> Evidently Equifax was aware that (<a href="<a href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/survey-many-users-never-read-social-networking-terms-of-service-agreements/">according to <i>Ad Week</i></a>) less than 18% of internet users take the time to read Terms of Service and Privacy Agreements. On top of this, evidently the credit tool at Trusted ID may not even be working currently.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">If you enroll in Equifax's TrustedID bc your data was leaked, you waive your rights to sue Equifax in court or be part of any class action. <a href="https://t.co/5kSiNGwGlD">pic.twitter.com/5kSiNGwGlD</a></p>— warrior cop (@wyatt_privilege) <a href="https://twitter.com/wyatt_privilege/status/906120794593427456">September 8, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/8/16276572/equifax-hack-protection-class-action-lawsuit-terms-of-service">Attorney Mike Fuller has already filed a suit on behalf of two Oregon natives</a> affected by the massive security breach.
<quote>Right now we're advising folks just to reach out to their state attorney general. It's actually a little unclear when you go to the site and try to navigate it, exactly what you're signing up for and what happens when you click the button and enter your information.”</quote>
There are differing opinions on whether or not signing up for Trusted ID will nullify consumers' right to seek punitive damages, but Fuller advised consumers not to even enter their name on the site, much less sign up for it. The number of hoops to jump through and gray areas are also rather troubling. For one, Trusted ID is <i>not</i> a free service, it's a free trial. Users who forget to cancel the trial will be charged for the service at the end of the trial period. In addition, you must sign up on a specific date and (just like with the free trial) there will no reminder from Equifax.
“Customers are between a rock and a hard place,” said Lisa Gilbert, the vice president of legislative affairs at Public Citizen, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. “In order to protect your identity you sign away your right to band together and protect yourself with others who have been harmed. It’s a corporate Catch 22.”</blockquote>
Equifax has offered an opt-out of the mandatory arbitration clause after a social media backlash, but considering the fact that they knew about the hack for months before announcing it and at least 3 of their managers sold large amounts of stock before the public announcement, some healthy skepticism may not be out of place. Keep in mind that with the Wells Fargo case still in court, the issue of the fairness and legality of these "mandatory arbitration clauses" is a source of hot debate in the courts and Congress. These sorts of clauses are <i>de riguer</i> for most financial and credit based institutions. Though they are prized by the lending firms for allowing them to save time and money and protect from embarrassment.