EQUIFAX CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

Mark William Thomas et al. v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, Case No. 3:18-cv-00684-MHL

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Basic Information

  2. Why was a notice issued?

    A Notice has been made available because members of the Settlement Class have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement. The Long Form Notice explains the lawsuits, the proposed Settlement, your legal rights, and what benefits are available. A full copy of the Settlement Agreement may be viewed by clicking here.

    The Court in charge of this Settlement is the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in front of Judge M. Hannah Lauck. The case is called Thomas v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, No. 3:18-cv-00684 (E.D. Va.). The people who brought the lawsuits are called the Plaintiffs or Class Representatives, and Equifax Information Services, LLC ("Equifax") is the Defendant.

  3. What are the lawsuits about?

    The lawsuits claim that Equifax reported inaccurate public record information in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Equifax has disputed that it has any liability and contends that it acted lawfully and in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act at all times.

    The Court did not decide whether Equifax violated the law. Instead, both sides agreed to the Settlement to resolve the cases and provide benefits to consumers.

  4. What is a class action?

    In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called "Class Representatives" sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the class. The Class Representatives filed the cases as proposed class actions.

  5. Why is there a Settlement?

    The Court has not decided which side is right or wrong in the cases. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement to avoid the costs and risks of a lengthy trial and appeals process.

  6. Who is in the Settlement?

  7. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

    You are included in the proposed Settlement if between June 28, 2015 and May 14, 2019, Equifax issued your credit report to a third party (such as a lender or employer) and the credit report contained a tax lien or civil judgment that was not accurately described or did not belong to you. The Settlement includes state tax liens, federal tax liens, and civil judgments and includes claims that Equifax misreported those liens or judgments as unpaid, when they had in fact been paid.

  8. What if I am not sure whether I am included in the Class?

    If you are still not sure whether you are included in the Class, then you can call 1-855-624-2739 for more information.

    You may contact the attorneys representing you for further information or assistance at EquifaxClassAction@consumerlawfirm.com, or write to:

    Equifax Settlement Class Counsel
    1600 Market Street, Suite 2510
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Consumers should not contact either Equifax or King & Spalding about the Settlement.

  9. The Settlement Benefits — What You Get

  10. What does the Settlement provide?

    The parties agreed to this "Injunctive Relief" Settlement. An injunction occurs when a court orders a person or company to do or not do something – in this case, changes to Equifax's business practices, including stopping reporting tax liens and judgments through at least December 31, 2019.

    The Settlement requires Equifax, at its own expense, to design, implement, and maintain specific and substantial procedures that address the lawsuits' concerns about how Equifax reports public records. All members of the Class will receive the benefit from these changes in business practices.

    The Settlement does not guarantee that you will be paid money, but it does create an opportunity for monetary recovery for some people. You will not give up any rights you have to bring an individual claim against Equifax unless you choose to receive a payment.

    A.    Right to Automatic Payment of $1,500 in ADR Program.

    Under the Settlement, Equifax has agreed to create an expedited process ("ADR Program") for consumers to submit a claim and request for payment if they have suffered "Adverse Action" as a result of an Equifax credit report that contained an inaccurate judgment or tax lien.

    Participation in the ADR Program is voluntary. The ADR Program will be available until December 31, 2021.

    To be eligible to participate in the ADR Program, consumers must not:

    • Be an employee of Equifax, and/or
    • Have previously settled, compromised, or otherwise released a claim (as a result of litigation or otherwise) related to Equifax reporting an inaccurate judgment or tax lien on a credit report.

    Details for submitting this request for payment and are available below in FAQ 15. You may also contact Class Counsel for further information, advice, or assistance in making your request at EquifaxClassAction@consumerlawfirm.com, or write to:

    Equifax Settlement Class Counsel
    1600 Market Street, Suite 2510
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Equifax has agreed to pay for the costs of providing notice, implementing the procedures described in the Court's injunction, administration of the ADR Program, and Class Counsel's attorneys' fees and expenses.

    B.    Changes to Equifax's Reporting and Disclosure Practices.

    Specifically, the changes in Equifax's business practices has required Equifax to do the following:

    • Equifax has stopped reporting state and federal tax liens and civil judgments until the later of (a) December 31, 2019 or (b) 18 months following the date the Settlement becomes final ("Effective Date") or such earlier date as Equifax stops reporting such records.
    • For five years from the Effective Date, Equifax may only report newly acquired civil judgments and state and federal tax liens after providing Class Counsel with information about the new record collection process.
    • Any new process must ensure that all public records are collected at a frequency of every 60 days or less, and the collection process must be sufficiently standardized and rigorous to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the records (including updates) obtained.

    Because these procedures are being accomplished through a Court injunction, Judge Lauck will retain ongoing supervision of these changes. The specific terms of the changes are included in the Settlement Agreement, a copy of which is available on the Important Documents page of this website.

    Class Members do not have to pay or buy anything to benefit from the changes in business practices or the ADR Program provided by the Settlement.

    Consumers should not contact either Equifax or King & Spalding about the Settlement.

  11. When did the Settlement go into effect?

    The Court held a fairness hearing and approved the Settlement on September 13, 2019. The date the Settlement became final is called the Effective Date.

  12. How does the Settlement affect my rights?

    Because the Settlement was finally approved by the Court, you gave up your right to file a class or mass action, or any other aggregate litigation, against Equifax related to Equifax's reporting of public records. You will keep your right to bring claims for damages and other relief against Equifax related to public record reporting on an individual basis, unless you accept a monetary payment from Equifax as part of the ADR Program. If you participate in the ADR Program and accept an offer of a monetary payment, you will be required to sign a release of individual claims against Equifax in order to receive your payment.

    The precise terms of the release are explained in the Settlement Agreement, a copy of which is available on the Important Documents page of this website.

    The Court's decisions in this Settlement apply to you even if you objected to the Settlement or have any other claim, lawsuit, or proceeding pending against Equifax relating to the same claims. If you have any questions about the release, you should consult with a lawyer.

  13. The Lawyers Representing You

  14. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    Yes. The Court approved the following lawyers as "Class Counsel" to represent you and the Settlement Class:

    • Leonard Bennett and Matthew Erausquin of Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C. in Newport News, Virginia;
    • Jim Francis and John Soumilas of Francis & Mailman, P.C. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
    • Micah Adkins of The Adkins Firm P.C. in Franklin, Tennessee;
    • Kristi Kelly of Kelly & Guzzo, PLC in Fairfax, Virginia; and
    • E. Michelle Drake of Berger & Montague, P.C. in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    You will not be charged for these lawyers. You may hire your own attorney to advise you, but if you hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for paying that attorney's fees.

    You may contact the attorneys representing you for further information or assistance at EquifaxClassAction@consumerlawfirm.com, or write to:

    Equifax Settlement Class Counsel
    1600 Market Street, Suite 2510
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Consumers should not contact either Equifax or King & Spalding about the Settlement.

  15. How will the lawyers and Class Representatives be paid?

    The Settlement required Equifax to pay the attorneys' fees of the five law firms that served as Class Counsel and of additional law firms that are counsel in other lawsuits pending against Equifax for the same issues in these cases. The Court awarded the law firms $9,485,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses for the time, effort, and money they have spent on these cases. The Court also approved $15,000 in service awards for the Class Representatives who helped the lawyers on behalf of the whole Class. Under the terms of the Settlement, Equifax was not obligated to pay any amount for attorneys' fees, expenses, and Class Representative service awards that exceeded $9.5 million.

    Class Counsel and the other settling law firms worked on these cases entirely on a contingent basis. They also financed all of the litigation, paying all applicable court fees, as well as all litigation costs and expenses. Had the attorneys not succeeded in settling or winning this lawsuit, they would have recovered nothing.

    Equifax paid the approved attorneys' fees and expenses and service awards, and no Class Member owes or will pay anything for the attorneys' fees and expenses or the Class Representative service awards.

  16. When was the objection deadline?

    The objection deadline was September 6, 2019. The Court approved the Settlement on September 13, 2019. You can no longer object to the Settlement.

  17. When did the Court approve the Settlement?

    The Court held a hearing and approved the Settlement on September 13, 2019. The purpose of the hearing was to determine the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the Settlement terms; whether the Settlement Class was adequately represented by the Class Representatives and Class Counsel. The Court entered the Final Approval and Injunctive Order approving the Settlement, a copy of which is available on the Important Documents page of this website. The Court also approved Class Counsel's application for an award of attorneys' fees and expenses and the Class Representatives' compensation.

  18. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    You are not required to do anything to get the benefits of the Settlement. Because the Court approved the proposed Settlement, you are bound by the Court's final judgment and released the claims explained in the Settlement Agreement, a copy of which is available on the Important Documents page of this website.

  19. Filing a Claim

  20. How do I file a claim?

    To receive payment from this Settlement, you must submit a Claim Form by (1) submitting your completed Claim Form electronically online by clicking here, or (2) filling out and signing the Claim Form, which can be downloaded by clicking here, and emailing your completed Claim Form to info@EquifaxPublicRecordSettlement.com, or (3) mailing it to the Settlement Administrator at the following address:

    Equifax Public Record Settlement
    1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    You must provide documentation in support of your claim. If you are submitting an Ownership Claim (i.e., that a public record that appeared on your Equifax credit report did not belong to you), you should include documentation of the following:

    1. Evidence that the public record did not belong to you. This could be:
      1. a copy of the public record that did not belong to you (e.g., a date stamped court record or similar document); or
      2. a copy of an Equifax report showing the record that does not belong to you;
    2. Evidence of adverse action taken against you after June 28, 2015. This could be:
      1. an adverse action notice or other written statement from the company that took the adverse action which refers to the public record; or
      2. a written statement from you that includes details about the adverse action, meaning (i) the name of the company that took adverse action; (ii) the approximate date of the adverse action; (iii) a statement that the adverse action was because of the misattributed record

    If you are submitting an Updating Claim (i.e., that a public record that appeared on your Equifax credit report did not accurately reflect its disposition, such as paid or satisfied, on the date of the report), you should include documentation of the following:

    1. Evidence (such as in the form of a date stamped court record or similar document) showing the date the disposition (i.e., payment or satisfaction of the lien or judgment) was publicly filed;
    2. Evidence of adverse action taken against you after June 28, 2015. This could be:
      1. an adverse action notice or other written statement from the company that took the adverse action which refers to the public record; or
      2. a written statement from you that includes details about the adverse action, meaning (i) the name of the company that took adverse action; (ii) the approximate date of the adverse action; (iii) a statement that the adverse action was because of the inaccurately reported public record.

    The deadline to file a claim is December 31, 2021.

  21. What if I need help with completing the Claim Form?

    If you have any questions or need help with completing the Claim Form, Class Counsel is available to assist you. You may contact Class Counsel by phone at 1-855-624-2739 or by email at EquifaxClassAction@consumerlawfirm.com.

    Consumers should not contact either Equifax or King & Spalding about the Settlement.

  22. Getting More Information

  23. How do I get more information?

    The website also provides answers to commonly asked questions, plus other information, to help you determine whether you are a member of the Settlement Class. In addition, some of the key documents in the cases are available on the Important Documents page of this website.

    You may contact the attorneys representing you for further information or assistance at EquifaxClassAction@consumerlawfirm.com, or write to:

    Equifax Settlement Class Counsel
    1600 Market Street, Suite 2510
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Do not write or call the judge or any court personnel concerning this lawsuit or notice. Consumers should not contact either Equifax or King & Spalding about the Settlement.