Equifax data breach
In September 2017, Equifax, one of the United States’ three major consumer credit reporting agencies, announced that hackers had breached its systems and stolen the personal information of over 145 million US consumers. The stolen information included consumers’ names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, credit card numbers.
This unprecedented breach - one of the largest cybersecurity incidents in history - led to intense investigations from regulators, state attorneys general, and private plaintiffs seeking to hold Equifax responsible for its failure to protect consumers’ sensitive personal data.
Hausfeld filed a complaint on behalf of consumers harmed by the breach, and the firm was appointed by the US district court in Georgia to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the nationwide consumer class action.
As a member of the Steering Committee, Hausfeld took the lead in coordinating the complex 50-state plaintiff discovery and successfully shepherded the case through Equifax’s motion to dismiss. As part of the settlement committee, Hausfeld took a leading role in the extensive mediation sessions with Equifax, federal regulators, and state attorneys general, which ultimately brought the case to a successful resolution for the consumer class.
In July 2019, the mediation sessions resulted in the largest data-breach class-action settlement in history. The comprehensive settlement includes more than $505 million for the consumer class.
Under the settlement, class members will also be entitled to at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring provided by Experian (paid for by Equifax), with an additional six years of one-bureau credit monitoring provided by Equifax to prevent future harm. Alternatively, class members were able to opt for a cash payment if they already had credit monitoring. Regardless of their choice of credit monitoring or cash payments, all Class members will also receive seven years of access to identity restoration services.
Hausfeld and its co-counsel were also successful in obtaining binding commitments from Equifax to implementing expert-recommended security measures directed at securing sensitive information, monitored by an independent third-party and enforceable in Court, with Equifax required to spend $1 billion on data security. The settlement was approved by the district court and is currently pending appeal at the Eleventh Circuit.