Minnesota joins $16M settlement over 2012 and 2015 Experian data breaches
Minnesota to receive $280K civil penalty; Experian to provide 5 years of free credit monitoring; Experian and T-Mobile to improve data-protection services
November 7, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that he and a bipartisan coalition of 40 attorneys general have obtained two multistate settlements with Experian concerning data breaches it experienced in 2012 and 2015 that compromised the personal information of millions of consumers nationwide including in Minnesota. The coalition has also obtained a separate settlement with T-Mobile in connection with the 2015 Experian breach, which impacted more than 15 million people who submitted credit applications with T-Mobile. Under the settlements, the companies have agreed to improve their data security practices and to pay the states a combined amount of more than $16 million. Minnesota will receive a total of $280,685.67 from the settlements.
“When we as consumers do business with many companies and service providers, we have little choice but to trust them when we share some of our most sensitive identifying information. When they break that trust, it can be devastating,” said Attorney General Ellison. “It’s hard enough to afford your life without having your identity stolen, because we all know it can destroy your credit, affect your housing and employment opportunities, and damage your purchasing power for years to come. I’m glad Experian and T-Mobile have settled with us. These settlements provide important credit-monitoring support for affected consumers to catch any discrepancies the moment they happen, and better yet, with permanent fixes to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”
In September 2015, more than 200,000 Minnesotans experienced a data breach in which an unauthorized actor gained access to part of Experian’s network storing personal information on behalf of its client, T-Mobile. The breach involved consumers who had applied for T-Mobile postpaid services and device financing between September 2013 and September 2015, including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, identification numbers like driver’s license and passport numbers, and related information used in T-Mobile’s own credit assessments. by the 2015 breach. Neither Experian’s consumer credit database, nor T-Mobile’s own systems, were compromised in the breach.
The 40-state multistate group has obtained separate settlements from Experian and T-Mobile in connection with the 2015 data breach. Under a $12.67 million settlement, Experian has agreed to strengthen its due diligence and data security practices going forward. Those include:
- Prohibition against misrepresentations to its clients regarding the extent to which Experian protects the privacy and security of personal information;
- Implementation of a comprehensive Information Security Program, incorporating zero-trust principles, regular executive-level reporting, and enhanced employee training;
- Due-diligence provisions requiring the company to properly vet acquisitions and evaluate data-security concerns prior to integration;
- Data-minimization and -disposal requirements, including specific efforts aimed at reducing use of Social Security numbers as identifiers; and
- Specific security requirements, including with respect to encryption, segmentation, patch management, intrusion detection, firewalls, access controls, logging and monitoring, penetration testing, and risk assessments.
The settlement also requires Experian to offer 5 years of free credit monitoring services to affected consumers, as well as two free copies of their credit reports annually during that timeframe. This is in addition to the four years of credit monitoring services already offered to affected consumers— two of which were offered by Experian in the wake of the breach, and two that were secured through a separate 2019 class-action settlement. The deadlines to enroll in these prior offerings have since passed.
If you were a class member in the 2019 class action settlement, you are eligible to enroll in these extended credit monitoring services. Affected consumers can enroll in the 5-year extended credit monitoring services and find more information on eligibility here. The enrollment window will remain open for 6 months.
In a separate $2.43 million settlement, T-Mobile has agreed to detailed vendor management provisions designed to strengthen its vendor oversight going forward. Those include:
- Implementation of a Vendor Risk Management Program;
- Maintenance of a T-Mobile vendor contract inventory, including vendor criticality ratings based on the nature and type of information that the vendor receives or maintains;
- Imposition of contractual data security requirements on T-Mobile’s vendors and sub-vendors, including related to segmentation, passwords, encryption keys, and patching;
- Establishment of vendor assessment and monitoring mechanisms; and
- Appropriate action in response to vendor non-compliance, up to contract termination.
The settlement with T-Mobile does not concern the unrelated, massive data breach that T-Mobile announced in August 2021, which a multistate coalition of attorneys general is still investigating.
Concurrently with the 2015 data breach settlements, Experian has agreed to pay an additional $1 million to resolve a separate multistate investigation into another Experian-owned company — Experian Data Corp. (“EDC”) — in connection with EDC’s failure to prevent or provide notice of a 2012 data breach that occurred when an identity thief posing as a private investigator was given access to sensitive personal information stored in EDC’s commercial databases. Under that resolution, entered into by a separate group of 40 states, EDC has agreed to strengthen its vetting and oversight of third parties that it provides personal information, investigate and report data security incidents to the Attorneys General, and maintain a “Red Flags” program to detect and respond to potential identity theft.