Consumers are furious over what they view as an unfair settlement between the U.S. government and Equifax over the latter’s now-infamous 2017 data leak–so much so that more than 200,000 of them so far have signed a petition against the deal.
“Don’t let Equifax escape liability” is the title of the Change.org petition aimed at bringing proper justice to the customers of one of the world’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies after it exposed the data of almost 150 million customers. The petition is in response to a settlement Equifax reached with federal and state investigations that could cost the company as much as $700 million.
“It’s time WE send a clear and powerful message — to Equifax, the FTC and Washington in general: DO YOUR JOB. PROTECT US and not corporate executives,” according to the petition, started by Charles Kokoska of Oneida, NY.
The petition argues that even though Equifax made a hefty financial settlement with government officials over that breach, very little of that cash will trickle down to those who actually suffered because of it.
“The FTC recently promoted their $500+ million dollar settlement with Equifax as a huge benefit to the public, touting that each affected consumer could receive up to $125,” according to the petition. “Factually, this settlement is so riddled with holes that consumers applying for “their share” will never see a penny, let alone $125.”
In July Equifax said it will hand over $300 million to cover free credit monitoring services for impacted consumers, $175 million to 48 states in the U.S, and $100 million in civil penalties to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). If the initial amount does not cover consumer losses, Equifax also acknowledged that it may need to pay an additional $125 million.
The petition argues that the terms of the deal as presented to the public are misleading and most of the customers affected won’t see any recompense over the breach.
“With only $31 million actually allocated to fund this portion of the settlement, less than ONE PERCENT (roughly 248 thousand out of over 148 million) could receive this money,” according to the petition.
In fact, to add insult to injury, the FTC has even asked the public to choose “worthless credit monitoring”—from Equifax, no less—instead of a cash settlement since there aren’t enough funds to pay all affected, according to the petition.
“The FTC should be embarrassed to even suggest that such an offer is acceptable,” according to the petition, which 213,141 had signed at the time this article was written.
Indeed, the action demonstrates growing frustration with consumers over organizations’ mishandling of their data as leaks due to often simple security blunders become weekly news items. Bad actors use data obtained through leaks for various forms of cybercrime.
“This settlement is absurd,” commented Robert Rasmussen, one of the petition’s signers. “Even if I were to receive $125 as a settlement, which is highly doubtful, it’s ridiculous to think this should absolve Equifax of all liability forever.”
When it occurred, Equifax attributed the massive breach—which exposed social security numbers, birth dates and license numbers of Equifax customers–to cybercriminal exploitation of an unnamed “U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files” from May through July 2017.