Equifax close to paying around $700 million to settle data breach lawsuits

The credit reporting agency is nearing a deal to settle state and federal investigations into the 2017 data breach. 

The Equifax data breach compromised the personal information of over 145 million US citizens. Names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and many more personal details were among the data that had been exposed.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Equifax could pay around $700 million so settle with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, consumer-focused class action lawsuits and a number of state attorneys. 

The settlement could be announced later today. It is noted that the final amount to be paid may change depending on any additionally claims filed by consumers. 

Equifax stated in a recent financial filing that $690 million had been set aside to cover the anticipated legal cost.

Critics have questioned whether the settlement would be adequate enough.

“It’s a step, but it’s just inadequate,” said Ed Mierzwinski, a senior director at U.S. PIRG, a consumer advocacy group. “It seems to be what they think they should pay, not what they deserve to pay.”

Equifax is still recovering from the data breach, which resulted in the resignation of CEO Richard Smith and the company recording big losses.

From the first three months of 2019, the company reported a loss of $555.9 million against a net income of $90.9 million for the same timeframe last year. Additionally as a result of the data breach Equifax amassed $1.35 billion in cost. 

“It really doesn’t matter that no one has owned up to this,” Mr. Mierzwinski said. “The information is out there. Your financial DNA is like gold. It can sit in a thieves’ vault for years and still be valuable.”

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