FTC News on Equifax Security Breach
What does it mean for you?
In March of 2017, Equifax was alerted to a critical security vulnerability affecting its ACIS database, which handles inquiries from consumers about their personal credit data. The FTC states,
“Even though Equifax’s security team ordered that each of the company’s vulnerable systems be patched within 48 hours after receiving the alert, Equifax did not follow up to ensure the order was carried out by the responsible employees.”
In fact, it wasn’t until July 2017 that it was discovered the database was still unpatched. This discovery happened because the security team was again alerted of more activity.
How much information was targeted?
FTC and Equifax Settlement
In the complaint, the FTC alleges,
“Equifax failed to secure the massive amount of personal information stored on its network, leading to a breach that exposed millions of names and dates of birth, Social Security numbers, physical addresses, and other personal information that could lead to identity theft and fraud. As part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach.”
In the global settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), Equifax Inc. has agreed to pay at least $575 million, and potentially up to $700 million total. They are providing the option to either receive a claim of up to $125 or up to 10 years of free credit monitoring to those who had information stolen during the breach.
How Do I Know If My Information Was Stolen?
Visit ftc.gov/Equifax to find out, learn more, and start your claim to get free credit monitoring or up to $125.
File a Claim
As a result of an overwhelming number of people filing claims, it is no surprise that there are a few fake websites out there trying to steal more information. Make sure the site you visit is ftc.gov/Equifax. The FTC warns,
“A couple more things to remember. You’ll never have to pay to file a claim for these benefits. And anyone who calls and tries to get you to file a claim is almost certainly a scammer.”
The good news, all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring.
“There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead.”
The bad news,
“The pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
So, if you are thinking of submitting your claim, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead.
“Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.”
Information from ftc.gov and consumer.ftc.gov/blog