15 million Californians could receive a payout from the Equifax breach deal – Daily News

on Jul22
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Millions of Californians who had their Social Security numbers, home addresses and other personal information exposed in a 2017 security breach at credit-reporting company Equifax are eligible to file for a piece of a settlement worth up to $700 million that was reached between Equifax and the federal government.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said 15 million Californians are eligible to receive some of the approximately $18.7 million that the state will get as part of the deal between Atlanta-based Equifax and the Federal Trade Commission that was announced late Sunday. Claimants are eligible to file for a maximum claim of $20,000. As part of the settlement, Equifax will provide up to 10 years of free credit-monitoring service to any claimant.

“We need to put confidence back into the word confidential,” Becerra said, at a press conference in Sacramento on Monday. “That’s why we’re holding Equifax accountable today.”

Along with TransUnion and Experian, Equifax is one of three national companies that collect, store and report credit information on American consumers.

Becerra said the Equifax hack was one of the most devastating data breaches in American history as more than 147 million Americans had their personal information exposed in the incident. Becerra said the nature of where the breach occurred speaks to the larger issues of when people have to provide personal information, and the importance of ensuring that information is secure.

“The really critical part of this settlement is that you’re talking about a credit bureau,” Becerra said. “Try to apply for a job or a credit card without someone seeing your credit, you can’t. You have to know that when you give up (private information) it’s for a good reason. And we should have the confidence that our private information should be maintained.”

According to the terms of the settlement, Equifax will establish a $300 million fund that could climb to as much as $425 million, pay $175 million in fines to individual states and pay an additional $100 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Board.

The FTC has set up a site for consumers to find more information about the settlement.

The deal stems from Equifax disclosing in 2017 that hackers had used a flaw in the company’s security systems to obtain information such as individuals’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver’s licence numbers and home addresses. The federal government said that hackers had access to the Equifax data for more than two months, and that the company didn’t disclose the breach until six weeks after learning of the matter. The incident led to then-Equifax Chief Executive Richard Smith, and several other executives, to resign from the company.

“Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons, in a statement. “(This settlement will) ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.”

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