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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Multi-jurisdiction settlement reached with credit reporting agency over 2017 data breach

Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Attorney General Data Breach State Issues Credit Reporting Agency Settlement Massachusetts Indiana

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

On April 17, the Massachusetts attorney general announced a settlement with a credit reporting agency (CRA) to resolve a state investigation into a 2017 data breach that reportedly compromised the personal information of nearly three million Massachusetts residents. According to the AG’s 2017 complaint (covered by InfoBytes here), the CRA ignored cybersecurity vulnerabilities for months before the breach occurred and failed to take measures to implement and maintain reasonable safeguards. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, pending final court approval, the CRA will pay Massachusetts $18.2 million and is required to take significant measures to strengthen its security practices to ensure compliance with Massachusetts law. These measures include (i) implementing a comprehensive information security program; (ii) minimizing the collection of sensitive personal information; (iii) managing and implementing specific technical safeguards and controls; (iv) providing consumer-related relief, such as credit monitoring services and security freezes; and (iv) allowing third-party assessments of its data safeguards.

Earlier, on April 14, the Indiana attorney general also announced that the CRA will pay the state $19.5 million to resolve allegations that it failed to protect Indiana residents whose personal information was exposed in the 2017 data breach. Under the terms of the final judgment and consent decree, in addition to paying $19.5 million in restitution, the CRA must take measures similar to those outlined in the Massachusetts settlement.

Massachusetts and Indiana were the only two states that chose not to participate in the 2017 multi-agency settlement that resolved federal and state investigations into the data breach and required the company to pay up to $700 million (covered by InfoBytes here).

Separately, on April 7, the City of Chicago announced a $1.5 million settlement to resolve allegations that the CRA’s failure to employ adequate data-security measures led to the breach.

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