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Equifax To Pay Hundreds Of Millions In Data Breach Settlement

WASHINGTON (AP/KDKA) -- Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the Federal Trade Commission and others over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people.

The proposed settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if approved by the federal district court Northern District of Georgia, will provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief.

The bureau coordinated its investigation with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from across the U.S.

One of those attorneys general is Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro.

In a press release, Shapiro said: "Equifax failed in its fundamental responsibility to safeguard consumers' sensitive financial information. Equifax knew that there were serious flaws in their system, but still they did not take appropriate steps to fix it. They left their system vulnerable to the biggest data breach in history and the financial futures of millions of Americans were put at risk—and it was entirely preventable."

Under the settlement, Equifax has also agreed to strengthen its security practices going forward. Some of those practices include:

• Reorganizing its data security team;
• Minimizing its collection of sensitive data and the use of consumers' Social Security numbers;
• performing regular security monitoring, logging and testing;
• Employing improved access control and account management tools;
• Reorganizing and segmenting its network; and
• Reorganizing its patch management team and employing new policies regarding the identification and deployment of critical security updates and patches.

The state Attorney General's Office says Equifax has also agreed to pay the states a total of $175 million, which includes $7.3 million for Pennsylvania.

The announcement Monday confirms a report by The Wall Street Journal that the credit reporting agency had reached a deal with the U.S.

Consumers who are eligible will have to submit claims online or by mail.

Paper claims forms can also be requested over the phone. Consumers will be able to obtain information about the settlement, check their eligibility to file a claim, and file a claim on the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry. Consumers can also check for updates and call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 for more information.

(TM and © Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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