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What the $700 million Equifax settlement means for you

Were you affected by the 2017 Equifax data breach? If so, you could very well be affected by the company’s settlement of between $650 million and $700 million in fines and reimbursement costs. The settlement comes as a result of an agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the company.

About half of the entire population of the United States is affected in some way by the breach and should be entitled to some form of compensation. Included in the hacked information were social security numbers, birth dates, and names. As a result, under the settlement agreement, Equifax is expected to pay out up to $20,000 in cash and credit monitoring to some individuals who were affected.

According to the report, the company is:

“…Immediately paying $300 million into the consumer fund and it will add another $125 million to pay further out-of-pocket costs if needed.”

Equifax is also offering free identity theft protection as well as six extra years of credit monitoring after the initial four expire, under the terms of the agreement.

But what’s really interesting about this settlement is how it could affect the future of identity verification, as the company was ordered to research alternative methods to do so that doesn’t mean people have to give up their social security numbers. According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro:

“Equifax is required to limit the collection of consumer Social Security numbers and look into different ways [to verify identity].”

A few options are already available to verify identities including Voice ID and biometrics such as a fingerprint or iris scan. Alternatively, it’s been proposed to use an IP address or a digital ID created by a blockchain (the technology used to keep track of bitcoins). The biggest problem with any of these methods is that each is hackable in its own way, whether via computers or in real-time.

Other proposed methods is by asking about a purchase last made, using the coming Real ID information system set up by the DMV, or even a heartbeat. Each of these three methods is safer and harder to fake, but it still can be done, or the data misused.

Nevertheless, a new way to verifying identities is coming, as per the terms of the settlement. We should all get ready for malicious people to come up with new ways of stealing and using that information against us.

As for the Equifax settlement, the company set up a website where you will eventually be able to check to see if you’re part of the class action, as well as find more information about what to expect – and when. You can view it here.


Featured Image via Pexels


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