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Huge Equifax Data Breach Has Led to a Huge Penalty

Consumer credit-reporting agency to pay up to $700M to victims, states in settlement
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2019 8:58 AM CDT
This July 21, 2012, file photo shows signage at the corporate headquarters of Equifax in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

(Newser) – After a huge data breach in 2017 that affected nearly 150 million people, a major credit-reporting agency has agreed to pay up. The Washington Post reports that, under an agreement with attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, Equifax will offer up to $700 million: $425 million directly to breach victims, $175 million to the states, and $100 million in civil penalties to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Equifax ... had a responsibility to secure and protect Americans' data. Instead, it breached public trust," reads a statement from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in announcing the deal, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Per the settlement terms, Equifax doesn't have to admit to any wrongdoing for "one of the most devastating data breaches to face our nation," he adds.

Equifax will also offer at least 10 years of free credit-monitoring services to consumers who've been affected by the leak of such critical personal data as names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birthdates, driver's license numbers, and passport and credit card information. The AP notes consumers will also be able to take advantage of free identity-restoration services and, starting Dec. 31, six free copies of their credit report in a 12-month span, for at least the next seven years. The Federal Trade Commission is also requiring the agency to take more rigorous security measures and to subject itself to two decades of regular independent audits to make sure it's doing right by consumers on the cybersecurity front. To see if you're eligible for restitution under the settlement, visit the FTC website or call the settlement administrator at 833-759-2982. (Read more Equifax stories.)

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