Equifax will pay up to $700M over data breach that exposed millions

The payments are a response to the largest-ever data hack of its kind, which was discovered in 2017 and impacted nearly 150M consumers

Equifax, a major credit reporting firm that has increasingly pushed into the real estate industry, announced Monday that it will pay hundreds of millions of dollars over a data breach that exposed the personal information of almost 150 million people.

The payments are part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Equifax. It will involve the company turning over $290.5 million directly to various government agencies, as well as spending up to $425 million on a fund for consumers. The fund will be used to monitor consumers’ credit and cover losses that resulted from the data breach.

Equifax also agreed to “continue the significant steps it has taken in the wake of the cybersecurity incident to enhance its information security and technology program,” according to a company statement.

Mark Begor

Equifax CEO Mark Begor added in the statement that “we are focused on the future of Equifax and returning to market leadership and growth.”

“This comprehensive settlement is a positive step for U.S. consumers and Equifax as we move forward from the 2017 cybersecurity incident and focus on our transformation investments in technology and security as a leading data, analytics and technology company,” Begor added.

The settlement still needs approval from a court before going into effect.

Equifax discovered the data breach in July 2017. The incident involved hackers getting access to Social Security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers and other information for nearly 150 million Americans. Hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers were also among the stolen information.

The hack created significant blowback for Equifax — which serves roughly half the U.S. — and prompted a damning report from Massachusetts Senator, and now presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren.

The hack also was the largest-ever breach of its kind. The ensuing class action lawsuit was brought by the attorneys general of 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as well as regulators including the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York Department of Financial Services.

Aside from the data breach, consumers are most likely to be familiar with Equifax’s credit reporting services. However, the firm has been growing its real estate business as well, including last week when it launched a new lead generation product. The product is meant to leverage Equifax’s massive trove of data to let real estate professionals do what the company describes as “intelligent prospecting.”

Earlier this year, Bryson Koehler, Equifax’s chief technology officer, also joined Realogy’s board of directors.

Email Jim Dalrymple II