Equifax

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Equifax To Pay Up To $700M In Massive Data Breach Settlement

Michigan’s share is $4.6 million

July 22, 2019 - 11:18 am

(WWJ/AP) Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the U.S. and states over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people.

The settlement with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, would provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty and other relief.

If the settlement is approced, $175 million will go directly to states. 

Michigan’s share is $4.6 million, according to state Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“Equifax failed to address a critical security issue that left the door open so hackers could access personal information for millions of people across the country,” said Nessel, in a statement.  “This company knew there were problems and failed to address them – so consumers not only experienced a data breach but an unconscionable breach of trust by this company.”

The breach was one of the largest ever to threaten the private information. The consumer reporting agency, based in Atlanta, did not detect the attack for more than six weeks. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.

"The consumer fund of up to $425 million that we are announcing today reinforces our commitment to putting consumers first and safeguarding their data - and reflects the seriousness with which we take this matter," said Equifax CEO Mark Begor.

Affected consumers may be eligible to receive money by filing one or more claims for conditions including money spent purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach and the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency.

All impacted consumers would be eligible to receive at least 10 years of free credit-monitoring, at least seven years of free identity-restoration services, and, starting on Dec. 31 and extending seven years, all U.S. consumers may request up to six free copies of their Equifax credit report during any 12-month period.

If consumers choose not to enroll in the free credit monitoring product available through the settlement, they may seek up to $125 as a reimbursement for the cost of a credit-monitoring product of their choice. Consumers must submit a claim in order to receive free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements.

"Companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. "Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers. This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud."

Consumers who are eligible for compensation will be required to submit claims online or by mail. Paper claims forms can also be requested over the phone. Consumers will be able to obtain information about the settlement, check their eligibility to file a claim, and file a claim on the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry.

To receive email updates regarding the launch of this online registry, consumers can sign up at www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com. Consumers can also call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 for more information.