Largest data breach settlement in history includes up to $425 million in consumer restitution following investigation into 2017 data breach
July 22, 2019
Carson City, NV – Today, Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced that a coalition of 50 attorneys general, comprising 48 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, has reached a settlement with Equifax following a national investigation into a massive 2017 data breach. The investigation found that Equifax’s failure to maintain a reasonable security system enabled hackers to penetrate its systems, exposing the data of 56 percent of American adults—the largest-ever breach of consumer data.
“Today’s settlement is the largest data breach enforcement action in history, and I am proud to advocate on behalf of all Nevadans whose personal information was affected by this breach,” said AG Ford. “When consumers entrust their personal information to companies, that public trust comes with a responsibility to keep that data safe. This settlement will assist those affected by the breach with credit monitoring and will require Equifax to create safeguards against large-scale attacks in the future.”
As a result of the investigation, the coalition of attorneys general secured a settlement with Equifax that includes a Consumer Restitution Fund of up to $425 million, a $175 million payment to the states and injunctive relief, which also includes a significant financial commitment. Equifax also agreed to pay the states a total of $175 million, which includes $1,468,342.34 for Nevada.
On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the largest consumer reporting agencies in the world, announced a data breach affecting more than 147 million consumers – more than half of the U.S. population. Breached information included social security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card numbers and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.
Soon after, a coalition of attorneys general launched a multistate investigation into the breach. The investigation found that the breach occurred because Equifax failed to implement an adequate security program to protect consumers’ highly sensitive personal information. Despite knowing about a critical vulnerability in its software, Equifax failed to fully patch its systems. Moreover, Equifax failed to replace software that monitored the breached network for suspicious activity. As a result, the attackers penetrated Equifax’s system, and their actions went unnoticed for 76 days.
Under the terms of the settlement, Equifax agreed to provide a single Consumer Restitution Fund of up to $425 million—with $300 million dedicated to consumer redress. If the $300 million is exhausted, the Fund can increase by up to an additional $125 million. The company will also offer affected consumers extended credit-monitoring services for a total of 10 years.
Equifax has also agreed to take several steps to assist consumers who are either facing identity theft issues or who have already had their identities stolen including, but not limited to, the following terms:
- Making it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit;
- Making it easier for consumers to dispute inaccurate information in credit reports; and
- Requiring Equifax to maintain sufficient staff dedicated to assisting consumers who may be victims of identity theft.
Equifax has also agreed to strengthen its security practices going forward, including:
- Reorganizing its data security team;
- Minimizing its collection of sensitive data and the use of consumers’ Social Security numbers;
- Performing regular security monitoring, logging and testing;
- Employing improved access control and account management tools;
- Reorganizing and segmenting its network; and
- Reorganizing its patch management team and employing new policies regarding the identification and deployment of critical security updates and patches.
Consumers who are eligible for redress will be required to submit claims online or by mail. Consumers will be able to obtain information about the settlement, check their eligibility to file a claim, and file a claim by phone or online. To receive email updates regarding the launch of the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry, consumers can sign up at www.ftc.gov/equifax-data-breach. Consumers can also call 1-833-759-2982 for more information. The program to pay restitution to consumers will be conducted in connection with settlements that have been reached in the multi-district class actions filed against Equifax, as well as settlements that were reached with the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In addition to Nevada, other states and territories participating in this settlement include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. Also joining are Texas, West Virginia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Senior Deputy Attorneys General Lucas Tucker and Laura Tucker of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection represented Nevada in this settlement. For
more facts about the settlement, click here. To view the Consent Judgement,
click here. Senior Deputy Attorneys General Lucas Tucker and Laura Tucker of
the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection represented Nevada in this