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Chicago becomes second major city to sue Equifax over data breach

Follows San Francisco in suing credit reporting agency

For the second time in two days, one of nation’s largest cities announced that it is suing Equifax over the credit reporting agency’s massive data breach, which led to the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers being exposed.

First, it was the city of San Francisco, which sued Equifax on behalf of the people of the State of California, accusing the credit reporting agency of violating state law governing unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices.

Now, Chicago is suing Equifax as well.

On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Edward Burke, and Chicago Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel announced that the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against Equifax.

Chicago’s lawsuit seeks to “ensure that the company is held accountable for its recent data breach and its failure to give timely notice to Chicago residents, as well as to force the company to offer remedies and restitution to those impacted by the breach.”

Specifically, Chicago’s lawsuit claims that by “exposing consumers’ personal information, failing to provide prompt notice of the breach and misleading concerned consumers by initially falsely representing that it was offering ‘complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring’ while requiring a waiver from future legal action, Equifax violated the Illinois Personal Information Privacy Act, the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Chicago Consumer Fraud ordinance.

“Chicago residents have been unnecessarily exposed to financial risks due to Equifax’s irresponsible and reckless actions that prioritized profit over the privacy and safety of consumer data,” Emanuel said. “We are taking action to hold this company accountable and to protect the residents of Chicago.”

According to the city, the personal information of more than 5 million Illinois residents was exposed as part of the breach.

“I commend Mayor Emanuel and Corporation Counsel Siskel for filing suit against Equifax,” Burke said. “This is a breach of epic proportions and Equifax should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Chicago citizens rely on City government to protect them.”

Chicago’s lawsuit seeks civil penalties, restitution, and other available relief to address, remedy and prevent harm to Chicago residents resulting from Equifax’s actions and inactions, the city said in a release.

According to the release, the penalty for violating Chicago’s ordinance is “a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $10,000 for each offense, and each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply.”

“The evidence in this case clearly points to violations of state law and the city’s consumer protection ordinance, and we have an obligation to any resident who has been impacted to seek remedies and fines as a penalty,” Siskel said.  

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