Maryland will receive $5.7 million through a settlement with Equifax over the massive 2017 data breach that exposed the information of more than half of American adults.
The payment to Maryland is part of a wider agreement announced Monday, which includes consumer restitution fund of up to $425 million and civil penalties to the federal government, 48 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico totaling $275 million, according to the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. The company will pay up to 700 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Discovered on Sept. 7, 2017, the credit reporting agency affected more than 147 million consumers, becoming the largest breach of consumer data ever. The information breached included social security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card numbers and driver’s license numbers. In turn, the company is now paying the largest ever consumer data breach settlement in history.
Frosh spoke at the national press conference on the settlement held Monday morning, as was among the leaders of the investigation.
— Brian Frosh (@BrianFrosh) July 22, 2019
“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 in a statement. “Our investigation and settlement will result in restitution to affected consumers. It also requires Equifax to make significant changes in the way it does business. Its protection of the personal information that it collects will be enhanced significantly, and Equifax will pay for oversight and monitoring to ensure that it does its job.”
On the Equifax side, the breach was traced to a vulnerability in the company’s ACIS database, “which handles inquiries from consumers about their personal credit data,” the FTC states. Equifax failed to patch the vulnerability when it was first discovered in March 2017, and the breach itself went unnoticed for 76 days, according to Frosh’s office.
The company was ordered to implement an information security program requiring specific measures, including an annual assessment of the program, testing and monitoring and designating an employee to oversee the program.
For consumers, Equifax will offer credit monitoring for 10 years to affected customers, and provide six free credit reports each year for seven years to all U.S. consumers. More information is available via the FTC’s Equifax website.