The CEO of Atlanta-based credit monitoring agency Equifax, Richard Smith, resigned Tuesday in light of a cyberattack that exposed the personal information and social security numbers of more than 143 million people.
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Smith leaves a company that still faces dozens of class-action lawsuits, including one filed by former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, in wake of the data breach.
Another lawsuit was brought by Marietta-based attorney Jason Doss on Sept. 19 on behalf of all U.S. small business owners. Doss called on Atlanta-based credit monitoring agency Equifax to stop charging small business owners to access its business credit report.
“Businesses are going to end up having to keep buying these business reports over time to make sure that no criminal has opened a fake account in their business’ name or filed a fake tax return on behalf of their business,” Doss said. “Small businesses who don’t have the free credit monitoring offered or the free credit reporting, these folks have real damages.”
Equifax does not offer businesses free credit monitoring services or free credit reports. The agency did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
One of the small business owners named in the federal class-action lawsuit is Michael Chase, who buys thousands of dollars worth of camera and lighting equipment for his production company in Atlanta. It all depends on manufacturers or a bank deciding if he has good enough credit so they can loan him money.
“Once we realized we were hitting a brick wall with Equifax as far as the ease of figuring out the next steps, we just went ahead and froze our personal credit in hopes that that won’t affect our business credit, but we’re not quite sure,” Chase said.
Cade Joiner owns Shred-X, which has a warehouse in Griffin, Georgia, but supplies document shredding services to the metro-Atlanta area.
“I certainly hope this doesn’t affect any of my loans or lines of credit, because as a small business owner, our personal credit stands with the bank. They look at your personal credit and I thought, ‘Wow, you know, I have several outstanding loans for different types of equipment for my business and I thought this could be bad.”
Joiner said he will be closely monitoring his personal credit reports, and plans to order a business credit report.
“What’s shocking to me is that it’s so tied to my personal credit,” Joiner said. “When I get a loan, I don’t have the credit history like large corporation would and they look at my credit history and FICO score and that’s a big concern to me. If something pops up on my report, that’s inaccurate or false, is that going to affect the interest rate I’m going to get on a loan?”
Doss said dozens of businesses have contacted Chase and he expects to file at least two more complaints this week.