Ian Whitehurst instructed to advise on potential Equifax Group Action

April 24, 2018

Ian Whitehurst from Exchange Chambers has been instructed by Hayes Connor Solicitors to advise on a potential group action claim against credit-reference agency Equifax.

Hayes Connor has witnessed an influx of queries from clients who have received letters from Equifax informing them that their data may be at risk. In response, the firm is currently building a secure database of victims who want to seek compensation for damages or distress suffered.

In May 2017, Equifax was the victim of a criminal cyber-attack which compromised the personal information of over 100,000 UK customers. Due to the credit report services provided by Equifax – which are carried out in relation to applications for a variety of products such as a loan, mortgage, credit card or mobile phone – many of those affected may never have heard of Equifax before.

While Equifax claims that the details breached should not pose a “significant risk”, phone numbers, dates of birth, driving licence numbers, email addresses, passwords and partial credit card details have been accessed, leaving victims open to the threat of fraud.

Since the hack, Equifax has been writing to potential victims, outlining what they need to do to safeguard themselves with details of a helpline number to call. However, due to the volume of calls received, many victims have reported difficulties getting through to the number provided. Also, while the details were accessed in May 2017, many victims were not told until October that year, leaving them open to risk during that time.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating the hack and is working with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which has the power to issue hefty fines for any infringements of data protection legislation. The FCA is said to be taking the matter “extremely seriously”.

Ian Whitehurst has also been instructed by Hayes Connor in relation to a potential group action claim against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group Limited and Global Science Research Limited (GSR).

The companies are at the centre of a dispute over the harvesting and use of personal data – and whether it was used to influence the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election, or, more relevantly in the UK, the Brexit referendum.

Ian Whitehurst is a member of the criminal department at Exchange Chambers and has developed a practice in the field of data breach claims for individuals and companies who have had their personal and sensitive data breached by third parties. He has previously advised claimants in relation to potential data breaches by the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Work and Pensions, local authorities and a national broadcaster.