Equifax to Pay $700 Million For Data Breach

NBC 7 Responds speaks to a leading identity theft expert on ways consumers can protect themselves

Consumer reporting giant, Equifax, has agreed to pay $700 million over a 2017 data breach.

Nearly 150 million people had their Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and customer’s dates of birth released in the breach.

It was the largest data breach of its kind. And yet, despite the size, Equifax did not learn of the security lapse until six weeks later.

“Things like social security numbers, dates of birth, all information which is critical identity credentials were compromised,” says Eva Velasquez, president of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego. “It was just so big that it took everyone's breath away.”

A federal judge in Georgia must approve the settlement before consumers can file a claim for any potential damages. If a consumer is unaware if their personal data was released, the FTC has set up an email notification alert here. 

In the settlement, Equifax has agreed to pay $575 million to those consumers whose information was exposed. That, says Velasquez, comes out to a few dollars per consumer.

“Even though $575 million sounds like an extraordinary amount of money, it’s only about $4 per consumer.”

Velasquez suggests that all consumers, not only those impacted, should freeze their credit, only unfreezing it when they are applying for a credit card or purchasing a home.

“Treat your credentials like you would cash in your bank account,” says Velasquez.

“You as a consumer need to make sure you’re not just abdicating all responsibility to the company. Do your part.”

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