Signing up for Equifax's help site could mean you're waiving your right to sue the company

Consumers attempting to find out if they are among the 143 million people whose personal information has been compromised in the Equifax hack must first sign away their rights to sue the company.

Equifax has come under fire for attempting to bind consumers to mandatory arbitration when signing up for the monitoring service — called TrustedID Premier — thereby forcing them to give up their right to sue the company or join a class-action case.

Equifax, a company that provides credit scores, announced Thursday that its users’ personal information, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and credit card numbers, was compromised in a data breach that occurred between May and July.

Equifax has since added a clause to its terms of service allowing people to opt out of being bound by the arbitration provision, although consumers must notify Equifax by mail within 30 days of enrolling in the monitoring service.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who on Friday launched an investigation into the Equifax breach, called the arbitration clause’s language “unacceptable and unenforceable.”

“My staff has already contacted @Equifax to demand that they remove it,” Schneiderman wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, also urged the company to remove its mandatory arbitration clause from its terms of use agreement.

“It’s shameful that Equifax would take advantage of victims by forcing people to sign over their rights in order to get credit monitoring services they wouldn’t even need if Equifax hadn’t put them at risk in the first place,” Brown said in a statement.

At least one class-action lawsuit has been filed against Equifax following the data breach.

Arbitration clauses have been a hot-button issue in recent months, after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau moved to ban them entirely over the summer, a rule that won’t take effect until later in September and won’t affect contracts made before March 19, 2018, according to The Washington Post.

Yet House Republicans have already voted to repeal the ban, prompting renewed criticism on Friday.

“Instead of running to Congress to seek a ‘get out of jail free’ card to avoid accountability for its reckless handling of consumers’ personal and financial information, Equifax and its counterparts in the credit reporting industry should focus on protecting information from identity thieves,” Christine Hines, legislative director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said in a statement.

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