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Equifax's security failure affected 143 million US consumers, or 44 percent of the US population. To add insult to injury, Equifax waited over a month before revealing the security breach it had suffered. If you're one of the millions affected by the breach, a chatbot can now help you sue Equifax in small claims court, potentially letting you avoid hiring a lawyer for advice.
Even if you want to be part of the class action lawsuit against Equifax, you can still sue Equifax for negligence in small claims court using the DoNotPay bot and demand maximum damages. Maximum damages range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee.
The bot, which launched in all 50 states in July, is mainly known for helping with parking tickets. But with this new update, its creator, Joshua Browder, who was one of the 143 million affected by the breach, is tackling a much bigger target, with larger aspirations to match. He says, "I hope that my product will replace lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax."
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Not that the bot helps you do anything you can't already do yourself, which is filling out a bunch of forms — you still have to serve them yourself. Unfortunately, the chatbot can't show up in court a few weeks later to argue your case for you either. To add to the headache, small claims court rules differ from state to state. For instance, in California, a person needs to demand payment from Equifax or explain why they haven't demanded payment before filing the form.
Attorney Scott Nelson, from the advocacy organization Public Citizen, says he isn't convinced a chatbot can successfully win a lawsuit. "I am not inclined to think it would be a panacea. Filing and winning a small claims case takes more than just filling in a form."
Still, chatting with the bot on a friendly blue screen can help take the guesswork out of small claims court procedures. All you have to do is state your name and address and it generates eight pages of lawsuit documentation in PDF form for you to print and file.
Equifax seems like it's going to put up a fight, so help in the form of chatbots can't hurt. Peter Vogel, a trial and transactional lawyer in Texas, says, "I believe that Equifax will fight class action lawsuits [and] small claims courts actions. That does not mean that Equifax will prevail, but ... given the scope of the 143 million individuals, it strikes me that Equifax will want to make this as complicated as possible for consumers."