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Monopoly Man Protests Equifax Arbitration Agreements

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Yesterday, the United States Senate conducted a hearing on the massive Equifax data breach scandal.  The former CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, testified about the failure of Equifax to protect the personal and confidential information of 145 million people.  That information included names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and credit card numbers.   Incredibly, his testimony showed that Equifax knew about the vulnerability of its data for months, but failed to fix it.  The testimony also showed that Equifax was actually making a profit from its failure to properly protect consumers’ private information.  However, what also caught my eye is the “Monopoly Man” that was seated behind the Equifax CEO while he was testifying.

That person was dressed up as the Monopoly Man character from the Monopoly board game, complete with white mustache, top hat, and monocle.  It turns out that Monopoly Man was there to protest the forced arbitration agreements (also known as a ripoff clause) being used by Equifax to take away the constitutional rights of its customers.

Monopoly Man: Forced arbitration is like a get out of jail, free card

Monopoly Man protesting the ripoff clause

We have previously written about the dangers of forced arbitration, an issue near and dear to us.  Click here and here for several such posts.  In short, forced arbitration takes away your right to go to court, even if the business intentionally acted illegally.  The business who acted illegally gets to choose the arbitrator, creating an inherent conflict of interest in favor of the business.  Some studies have shown that consumers lose about 94% of the time they try to arbitrate against a business.  You generally give up your right to appeal the decision, even if the arbitrator refuses to follow the law.  Your ability to obtain information to support your cases can be severely limited, and you give up the right to proceed with a class action, no matter how many consumers were harmed by the business.  The proceedings are generally secret, meaning they allow businesses who engage in illegal conduct to hide from public scrutiny, which can then lead to more consumers being hurt.  Now you see why a force arbitration agreement, even if buried in the “fine print” is really a ripoff clause:   it allows a business to rip off consumers with little or no fear of any legal repercussions.  That’s why arbitration is essentially a “Get out of jail, free” card for those businesses.

This brings us back to Monopoly Man.  Equifax had initially claimed that the people who were damaged by its data breach could not sue it, but would be forced into arbitration.  In the face of a significant public and political backlash, it quickly backed off.  However, it still insists on the right to force consumers into arbitration for any other illegal conduct by Equifax.  Millions of other businesses, including almost all local car dealers, also try to force consumers into arbitration.  Monopoly Man was holding a “Get out of jail, free” card to call attention to the ripoff clause that companies use to try to block you from your day in court. Click here to read a news article about Monopoly Man.

If you are affected by illegal conduct, or believe that your rights as a consumer have been violated, give us a call at 386-444-3032 to learn how we may be able to help you.  This is true even when there is a forced arbitration ripoff clause.  Don’t let shady businesses rip you off – contact an experienced consumer protection lawyer right away.