By Elizabeth Janney
Millions of Marylanders are among those eligible for restitution in the $700 million settlement agreement resulting from the Equifax security breach. The credit reporting company has now opened an online portal where impacted consumers can file claims.
“Most of the victims are not customers of Equifax,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said at a Federal Trade Commission news conference this week. “We did not choose Equifax. Equifax in fact chose us. … It collected our personal information, it analyzed that information and it sold that.”
To illustrate how people who are not customers of Equifax had their data compromised, a spokesperson for Frosh told Patch that when someone applies for a loan to buy a house, a credit check is run through agencies including Equifax.
Maryland and Illinois led the settlement negotiations after the multi-state investigation into what is one of the largest breaches of consumer data in history, exposing the sensitive information of an estimated 56 percent of adults, according to Frosh.
Investigators found that Equifax failed to patch a vulnerability in its security monitoring system that went undetected for 76 days in 2017. Social Security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card numbers and in some cases, driver’s license numbers, were included in the breached data, which officials said impacted more than 147 million people.
In the settlement this week, Equifax agreed to pay a total of $175 million to states that were part of the suit, including $5.7 million for Maryland, according to Frosh, who said the money will go toward providing services to the impacted consumers.
An additional $425 million will go toward individual customer restitution.
These are some of the services Equifax will offer to those affected, according to the settlement:
- Free credit-monitoring services for 10 years to those impacted. Those who already have credit-monitoring services may apply for a $125 credit.
- Cash payments up to $20,000.
- Seven years of identity-restoration services.
“Equifax’s data breach affected the personal information of millions of Americans, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft and misuse of their personal records,” Frosh said.
The settlement orders Equifax to make “significant changes in the way it does business,” he added. The more than 40-page consent decree Equifax signed with Maryland outlines measures it must take to protect personal data, including weekly security checks and reports.
“It sets a standard for credit reporting agencies,” Frosh said, “for protecting data.”
As part of making restitution, Equifax must also study ways to reduce reliance on Social Security numbers, then report back on that, and handle the millions of claims filed by affected customers.
What to Do if Impacted by the Equifax Breach
Equifax has a tool so people can check whether they were impacted by the Equifax breach and are eligible for part of the settlement.
Those impacted can file a claim with Equifax on the settlement page.
“Everyone should take advantage of this settlement,” Frosh said.
There is also a portal through the Federal Trade Commission dedicated to the Equifax data breach settlement, where the claims page became active July 24.
To see the story as it originally appeared on Patch.com, click here.
Did someone forward this to you?
Get your own daily morning news roundup in your inbox. Free. Sign up here.