Your legal rights after the Equifax credit bureau breach

TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - It was supposed to be peace of mind for people caught up in one of the largest personal information breaches in history. But it now has many people worried about what they are and are not signing up for.

If you were affected by the Equifax credit bureau breach, you were offered free credit monitoring for a year. It turns out the fine print had some language that got lots of people upset. Now the company has had a change of heart.

Question by question, over 143 million people are allowed to sign up for free credit monitoring from a third party company after hackers accessed their personal information through Equifax.

Before people signed up the fine print said they were giving up rights to sue Equifax over the breach. Instead putting you into something called forced arbitration if you wanted to make a legal challenge.

"I think there are a lot of businesses and companies that have those arbitration clauses and most people do not read the fine print and most likely they would have been surprised," said attorney Mike Dansack, with Gallon Takacs Boisonuealt and Schaffer.

Dansack studied this clause, something few people probably would have done before signing up for the credit monitoring. But that's not necessary anymore.

Equifax now says the arbitration did not refer to legal issues over the breach. That’s good for people who really wanted to take issue to court and avoid arbitration.

"Unfortunately you're not going to have a lot of leverage to change those other than not going forward to do business with that particular vendor," said Dansack.

So if you think any of the effect of the breach on your or your family, rose to the level of a lawsuit, you can have your day in court. It's subtle, it is language you might dismiss but sometimes details matter.

"Many people don’t realize they're out there and that really may be the outrage and maybe this will shed some light on these kinds of issues and maybe bring about some potential changes,” said Dansack.

So if you feel comfortable entering your information into that credit monitoring site, you can do it. The window has opening for people to start entering if they are affected.

Look to the top right hand side of this page to see if you are affected by the breach.