The security breach at Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus in the US, compromised sensitive and private details of 143 million customers, which accounts for 44% of the US population. Details include Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers. British people are also affected too, with nearly 50% of the UK population estimated to be affected by the hack.
And now consumers are being offered the option to use DoNotPay, a chatbot originally touted as a “robot lawyer,” to help them sue Equifax in state courts for negligence. The chatbot’s inventor, British teenager Joshua Browder who’s an undergraduate at Stanford University, told The Verge that DoNotPay has the ability to now help in small claims courts without, potentially, hiring a lawyer for advice. All the person has to do is answer a series of basic questions, such as address, phone number, and zip code. DoNotPay would then find the appropriate form to fill out. Browder said that victims can still join a class action lawsuit, but are still able to individually sue for maximum damages ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 depending on the state.
“It is particularly exciting that a lawyer is never needed in the process. The class action lawsuit against the company will only give successful consumers around $500 (with the rest going to greedy lawyers in commissions). I hope that my product will replace those lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax,” said Browder to VentureBeat.
DoNotPay was originally designed to help people appeal against speeding and parking tickets by providing the right letters and forms to use. The free service apparently helped overturn 375,000 tickets in the UK, New York, and Seattle, worth $10 million in total.
It’s worth noting that a chatbot is in no way an exact replacement of a lawyer, “it still doesn’t do divorces or crime—difficult things that real people deal with,” as noted by Quartz. DoNotPay generated the right forms for people to use for more straight forward cases such as overturning parking violations or suing on rental contracts.