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Hurricane Irma complicates Equifax customer service efforts after data breach

Chicago Tribune
September 11. 2017 9:40PM

CHICAGO — Credit reporting bureau Equifax on Monday blamed Hurricane Irma for anticipated longer wait times at its call centers in the wake of a massive cybersecurity breach.

Equifax disclosed Thursday that a data breach might have exposed the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver's license and phone numbers of up to 143 million consumers.

The company said Friday that it tripled its call center team to more than 2,000 agents and that it continues to add agents. But on Monday the Atlanta-based credit bureau said Hurricane Irma was a concern because many call center employees work in Florida and Georgia.

"When we recognized that Hurricane Irma could impact some of our call center wait times, we arranged to ramp up agents quickly to replace agents impacted by the storm," Equifax said Monday on its website. "As a result of the storm, we anticipate that call center wait times may be longer than usual for the next few days." It recommends that consumers visit its website.

Some consumers are doing more than calling Equifax.

At least two lawsuits, one from Sean Neilan, of Chicago, on Friday and another from Dan Lang and Russell Pantek, of Cook County, on Sunday, were filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago and seek class-action status. Those suits join others already filed in Oregon and Georgia.

Both of the Chicago-area filed lawsuits noted that Equifax discovered the breach — which the company said was the work of criminals — on July 29. The unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July.

"Equifax's decision to wait six weeks after the alleged data breach before informing all consumers was willful, or at least negligent," the Lang and Pantek lawsuit alleges.

Equifax has had other security failures in the past and has continually failed to safeguard consumers' information, the suit says.

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