Equifax breach: You can sue if your data was exposed; here's how

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 3:34 AM

The Equifax Breach – How To Find Out If You are at Risk

Two class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of customers affected by a massive breach at Equifax.

>> Watch the news report here

Officials with the Atlanta-based credit reporting and technology company said a “cyber security incident” may have exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.

The data that might have been accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

>> Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has partnered with a Florida firm for a class-action lawsuit. 

"This is not a windfall thing. These are real damages and real fears that folks have," he said. "There's no telling, but I guarantee you most of this information was auctioned off in just a matter of hours."

>> Equifax data breach: What to know

Barnes said that if you've been compromised, you are automatically a part of the class-action suit unless you opt out.

"You don't have to do anything. We have class representatives and there will come a time when we'll contact folks," he said. 

>> Equifax cyberattack: How to get a free credit report, protect your identity

He said he is going after what it takes to make things right. 

"What the money should be is what is necessary to hire someone to straighten out your credit so that you don't disrupt your life forever," he said. "And some money for the fact that (Equifax) negligently, and in violation of several federal statutes, allowed for this information to get out."

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Barnes said among many demands is that Equifax have its security audited, tested and trained and that the company purges information it doesn't need. 

WSB-TV's Nicole Carr visited the Clark Howard Consumer Action Center, where volunteers have received nearly three times their normal call volume with concerns about Equifax.

Volunteers said more than 500 calls came in Wednesday and 99 percent of them were about Equifax.

"I've been here for 20 years. This is the busiest day we've had," said Consumer Action Center volunteer Lori Silverman. 

She said volunteers are working to ease fears about the data breach. 

"Because 140 million people are trying to freeze their credit, the sites are crashing and they're unable to thaw their credit. That's a difficult situation to be in," she said. "We're recommending (everyone) hang tight. Hopefully, all of the hysteria will slowly go away and within the next couple of weeks you'll be able to freeze your credit."

The Consumer Action Center recommends you freeze your credit through Credit Karma. Equifax has rescinded fine print that kept consumers from suing them if they signed up for their free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. 

"Now they say they're backing off of that, but I would advise everybody: Do not interact with Equifax right now," Barnes said. 

U.S. judge: Immigrant in Texas must have access to abortion

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 11:59 PM

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
American-Statesman Staff
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN(American-Statesman Staff)

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Trump administration officials to stop blocking a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant from having an abortion while she’s being detained in Texas after crossing the Mexican border illegally.

>> Read more trending news

After a hearing in her courtroom in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered administration officials to allow the teenager, identified only as Jane Doe, to be taken to an abortion clinic “promptly and without delay.”

Without court intervention, Chutkan wrote, Doe “will suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled.”

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union argued that Doe’s experience is part of a larger pattern by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which under President Donald Trump has refused to allow unaccompanied minors to receive abortions, referring them instead to crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against abortions, often from a religious perspective.

Wednesday’s emergency order, however, applied only to Doe, and required federal officials to ensure that she can arrive as early as Thursday at an abortion clinic closest to the government-shelter where she’s being held.

“If transportation to the nearest abortion provider requires J.D. to travel past a border patrol checkpoint, Defendants are restrained from interfering with her ability to do so and are ordered to provide any documentation necessary for her to do so,” the judge wrote in the order.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked Chutkan to deny the teen access to an abortion, arguing that crossing the border illegally does not provide immigrants with broad rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“No federal court has ever declared that unlawfully present aliens with no substantial ties to this country have a constitutional right to abortion on demand,” Paxton said.

Paxton made the same arguments last week when the ACLU asked a California judge to intercede on the teen’s behalf. That judge, however, ruled that the request did not belong in her court, prompting the ACLU to file a second emergency request in Washington.

Halley’s Comet is source of this week’s Orionids meteor shower

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 10:18 PM

The Orionid Meteor Shower

A waxing crescent moon lends the celestial stage this week to the Orionid meteor shower — a wash of rock and ice shed from the venerable Halley’s Comet.

>> Read more trending news

While the Orionid shower runs from Oct. 2 to Nov. 7 this year, the heavenly theatrics will be most robust in the predawn hours of Saturday when the greatest number of meteors are expected to slip into Earth’s atmosphere.

With the moon just past new Saturday, there will be no lunar interference. During the peak, 10 to 20 Orionids per hour should be visible.

Deborah Byrd, editor in chief at the astronomy website Earth and Sky, said that while Saturday is the shower’s peak, meteors are likely to be firing from Friday morning through early November.

“The Orionids are known to be fast and on the faint side, but can sometimes surprise you with an exceptionally bright meteor that might break up into fragments,” Byrd wrote in her blog. “Maybe half of the Orionid meteors leave persistent trains — ionized gas trails that last for a few seconds after the meteor itself has gone.”

The Orionids are the only well-recognized major shower that happens twice a year. In May, the Earth again runs through the detritus of Halley’s Comet, creating the Eta Aquariid meteor shower.

Halley’s Comet was discovered by Edmund Halley in 1705, but is believed to have been recognized for millennia.

The comet returns every 72 years and was last seen from Earth in 1986. It won’t come again until 2061.

The Orionids are named for the celestial hunter Orion, which is easy to spot in the night sky by its bright belt of three aligned stars. Orion is the namesake because the meteors appear to radiate from north of Betelgeuse, one of the constellation’s most well-known stars.

You don’t have to stare at Orion to see a meteor; they will be visible in all parts of the sky.

If it looks like the Orionids will be clouded out, the website Slooh.com is aiming its telescopes at the sky Friday beginning at 7:59 p.m. in a live hunt for meteors. The show requires registration, so arrive early if not already a member.

The annual Orionids meteor shower is not considered the showiest of meteor showers, but it is generally a reliable one,” the site advertises.

Halley's Comet photographed by the Soviet Probe "Vega" in 1986. (Photo by Liaison)(Getty Images/Getty Images)

Nude photos taken in Florida judge’s chambers lead to clerk’s arrest

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 11:20 PM

Closeup of gavel in court room
IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Closeup of gavel in court room(IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Florida clerk who allegedly took nude photos of his girlfriend in a judge’s chambers was arrested Monday on a petty theft charge, news reports stated.

>> Read more trending news

The twisted tale involves Jefferson County Clerk of Courts Kirk Reams, 40, and his ex-girlfriend Brittany McClellan, according to the Tallahassee Democrat
The two began dating in 2012, had a child together and broke up about a year later, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
In 2013 and 2014, McClellan was arrested twice on domestic violence charges during fights with Reams, according to court records obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. The two also went through a tumultuous custody battle for their child, the paper added. 

The saga continued into late 2016, when McClellan told the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that while they were dating Reams took nude photos of her inside a circuit court judge’s chamber’s office. She also told them that McClellan let her borrow a government laptop, which she used for about a year, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. 

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Public Corruption Unit determined that the nude photos taken in 2013 did exist, but that McClellan did not do anything criminal, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. 

However, the state agency continued its investigation into the allegation of misuse of a government-owned laptop. She told officials that she used it to order supplies for her salon in Monticello, east of Tallahassee. 

Reams was charged Monday with misdemeanor petty theft and booked into jail. 

His attorney, David Collins of Monticello, said criminal charges should never have been filed and that the case should have been handled by the Florida Commission on Ethics. He said the latest event is essentially the result of an ex-girlfriend trying to smear Reams’ reputation.

“It appears that the government has gone to great lengths and costs to the taxpayer to prosecute a misdemeanor whose basis is that the clerk of court loaned an otherwise unused laptop and the clerk is the person who has authority to give permission to do such,” he told the Tallahassee Democrat. 

Read more at the Tallahassee Democrat

SeaWorld to eliminate 350 positions by the end of fiscal year 2017

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 10:49 PM

Entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)
Matt Stroshane/Getty Images
Entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)(Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

SeaWorld officials have announced that they will be restructuring the company and as a result, that 350 positions will be eliminated by the end of fiscal year 2017.

>> Read more trending news

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SeaWorld was implementing the restructuring program to “reduce costs, increase efficiencies, reduce duplication of functions and improve the company’s operations.”

The layoffs will be spread across SeaWorld theme parks and corporate headquarters, the filing said.

In a statement, SeaWorld said that it would be assisting employees affected by the layoffs.

“We do not take this task lightly. It is an unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of the restructuring that some positions will be lost,” the statement said. “For those employees, we are offering severance benefits and outplacement assistance to help with their transition.”

Read SeaWorld’s full statement on the elimination of 350 positions:

“Today SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. implemented the latest phase of our previously announced company-wide cost initiative. Approximately 350 positions across the company will be impacted by these changes, including open positions that will not be filled.

This ongoing work to improve efficiency is focused on administrative functions and non-guest facing positions, and we are redeploying resources from the related cost savings into our growth initiatives. This includes intensifying our efforts related to marketing SeaWorld to drive growth in park attendance, while maintaining our commitment to the guest experience.

We do not take this task lightly. It is an unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of the restructuring that some positions will be lost. For those employees, we are offering severance benefits and outplacement assistance to help with their transition.

We remain committed to creating world-class guest experiences, providing comprehensively for the care of all our animals, and continuing our company's focus on stranded marine animal rescue and ocean conservation initiatives.”