LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Monday announced her office has joined 49 Attorneys General in a multi-state settlement with Equifax as a result its massive 2017 data breach. The settlement includes up to $425 million in consumer restitution and $175 million to the states. Michigan’s share is $4,639,248 million.
The settlement is the largest data breach enforcement action in history.
“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. “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.”
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 — nearly 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.
Shortly after, 50 Attorneys General launched a multi-state 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. The company also failed to replace software that monitored the breached network for suspicious activity. As a result, attackers penetrated Equifax’s system and 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:
• 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. 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. 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.