Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax is reportedly close to finalizing a settlement deal with state and federal investigators for a data breach in its systems affecting more than 145 million people.
According to reports citing sources close to the matter, Equifax is apparently prepared to pay $700 million to put an end to the probe and the various litigations against it.
The settlement will reportedly be paid to the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and at least 48 state attorney generals.
As part of the settlement, all of the consumer class-action lawsuits that have been filed against Equifax will be dissolved, with grieving parties receiving most of the settlement amount.
For its part in the deal, Equifax will be required to take all the appropriate measures to make sure that its data is secure and that the breach two years ago will not be happening again. The official announcement of the settlement deal is expected to be made public this week.
Equifax first alerted authorities of a data breach into its systems back in September 2017.
The company reported a mass cybersecurity intrusion into its database, two months after the company had originally discovered it. The data breach was considered to be one of the largest breaches in US history, with attackers pilfering the sensitive information of millions of people.
The data that was obtained by the attackers included Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, names, and addresses. The security breach promoted nationwide criticism towards Equifax, including condemnation from lawmakers, consumers, and federal agencies.
Following the breach, an investigation into the matter was immediately launched by various federal agencies. It was later found out that attackers were able to access the company's portal through a security flaw that Equifax was reportedly already aware of. Despite knowing about the apparent security flaw, Equifax had failed to patch the issue within an acceptable timeframe.
When information of Equifax' blunder was made public, the company's stocks tumbled to all-time lows. The company's CEO, Richard Smith, was also removed from his position as a direct result of the cyber attack and of the company's negligence.
Since the breach, lawmakers and federal agencies have implemented stricter regulations on credit reporting agencies. Last year, Congress passed new legislation that barred these companies from charging fees to customers who want to freeze or unfreeze their credit reports. Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a presidential candidate for the upcoming 2020 elections, had made it part of her campaign to implement more robust trade regulations specifically towards credit reporting agencies.