Sovern Speaks at City Bar Association, Quoted In Five Articles on Equifax Data Breach, Including by Consumer Reports and American Banker

Professor Jeff Sovern spoke to the New York City Bar Association Committee on Consumer Affairs about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Trump administration on October 12. In addition, he was quoted in five articles.


Jeff Sovern

On September 28, Consumer Reports, in an article titled “Should You Participate in a Class Action Against Equifax?​” and posted on Yahoo Finance, quoted Sovern as follows:

In some cases, you may have a choice of accepting either a default payment or applying for a higher amount based on any proof you have that your losses were higher, says Jeff Sovern, professor at the St. John’s University School of Law in New York. * * *

You can opt out of a class action. If you do, you’ll preserve your right to sue on your own, Sovern says.

The American Banker quoted Sovern in two articles. One, on September 22, was about a credit union class action against Equifax in connection with the data breach, and was headlined “Credit union suit of Equifax may be first, likely won’t be last”​:

“I wonder whether the breach will affect the willingness of financial institutions to give Equifax the information which it needs to function,” Jeff Sovern, a law professor at St. John’s University, said in an email.

“After all, financial institutions now have a reason to believe that information may not be secure,” Sovern continued. “If some financial institutions stop providing Equifax data, that may make Equifax’s product less valuable to other lenders, which could also affect their willingness to be an Equifax customer. So financial institutions can damage Equifax even without suing.”

The other American Banker article, published on September 11, was headlined “Equifax breach may kill repeal of CFPB mandatory arbitration rule.”​ The article quoted Sovern as folllows:

Jeff Sovern, a law professor at St. John’s University in New York, called Equifax’s use of an arbitration agreement “diabolical” and “clever lawyering.”

* * *

“Equifax’s arbitration agreement precludes consumers from bringing class actions,” said Sovern, who added that the agreement likely now extends to noncustomers, giving the company even more cover.

“Many-perhaps most-of the consumers whose data has been compromised won’t have a previous contractual relationship with Equifax, and so would have been able to bring a class action,” Sovern said.

Sovern was also quoted by Woman’s Day in “You Could Be Entitled to Money From the Equifax Security Breach” on September 22:

That being said, Jeff Sovern, a professor of law at St. John’s University, says if you weren’t planning to sue on your own, you have little to lose by joining in.

“If you believe you have a valid claim but you aren’t going to bother to sue separately, and you think the settlement is likely to benefit you (e.g., if money will be deposited directly into your bank account without you doing anything or if you believe you would file the claim forms), then you gain something by joining without losing anything,” he explained to also quoted Sovern in an article titled “Ready to sue Equifax? Here’s what to know”:

“If somebody has a huge amount of damage — their credit is destroyed or they’ve put down a deposit to buy a house and now they can’t get a mortgage and they lose the deposit, they lose their dream house — now their damages are enough to pay for an attorney,” says Jeff Sovern, a law professor at New York’s St. John’s University. * * *

If consumers have agreed to an arbitration clause, they’re usually stuck. But these agreements can be waived if there’s public pressure, Sovern says.

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