Morrisey, Broad Coalition secure $600M Equifax settlement

CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a more than $600 million multistate settlement with Equifax following a data breach that put more than 730,000 West Virginians at risk for identity theft and financial fraud.

The settlement gives affected West Virginians access to $425 million in restitution and requires Equifax to pay the state nearly $2.4 million, a dramatically enhanced amount because of the state’s independent lawsuit against Equifax.

“This is a really big win for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “This settlement sends a strong message that companies must have adequate safeguards to protect consumers’ personal information.”

The multistate investigation found that Equifax’s failure to maintain a reasonable security system enabled hackers to penetrate its systems, exposing the data of 56 percent of American adults — the largest-ever breach of consumer data.

Equifax announced the data breach in September 2017 that affected approximately 148 million consumers nationwide.

Morrisey’s lawsuit followed months later and became one of the first state suits against the credit reporting firm.

The multistate settlement ranks as the nation’s largest data breach enforcement action. It consists of as much as $425 million in consumer restitution and $175 million to 48 participating states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

West Virginia will receive nearly $1.05 million from the multistate payout, along with an additional $1.35 million as result of direct negotiations with Equifax.

The settlement requires Equifax to take several steps to assist consumers who are facing identity theft issues and offer those impacted by the data breach an opportunity to enroll in credit monitoring services at no cost for 10 years.

Equifax also must comply with West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act with its collection, maintenance and safeguarding of personal information.

That includes implementation of a program to protect confidential data and employment of an information security officer to monitor the program.

Equifax must monitor, report, and disclose its findings on a regular basis.

Eligible consumers will be required to submit restitution claims online or by mail. Those wishing to receive email updates regarding the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry can register at https://www.ftc.gov/equifax. More information is available at 1-833-759-2982.

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