Equifax reaches $700 million data breach settlement

At least 150 million Americans were impacted by the 2017 data breach.
5:27 | 07/22/19

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Transcript for Equifax reaches $700 million data breach settlement
Out finally today in important consumer alert that's affecting more than 147. Million Americans if you have a credit card most of us do. You'll want to get plugged into this one at. Equifax one of the major credit credit agencies that keeps her contained credit files today agreed to pay at least 650. Million dollars to resolve. A claims from that data breach two years ago that exposed personal information. For millions of Americans ABC news contributor Steve Gomez has been following this hack he joins us live. From Los Angeles Steve you know if this happened two years ago at the time at Colfax took months to even let Americans know that this. This a compromise many of them. Exactly at which in my view it's atrocious behavior on the part of Equifax. Because they were holding about a 147 million consumer personal information which is very valuable. The fact that they are holding that information they have a responsibility to protect it. Two to use every means possible to ensure that that data is secure and it does not appear that the fall back kind of procedure from a security standpoint so well and and that's part of what they were doing. And Steve any idea at this stage now two years John were about to talk about settlement but have they identified who the hackers were here that took the data. It does not appear that they've identified the hackers but the bottom line is there are hackers from all over the world they're trying to tap into. You know companies like Equifax and the other credit bureaus and any company that is holding. Sensitive personal information of their customers or consumers. Those are all targets. That hackers are trying to penetrate. And so if you have that kind of information especially a massive amount of data sits as Equifax you have to take the steps to ensure that that daddy is secured. Yeah in those agencies have so much information on so many of us again everybody with a credit card. I should pay attention here Steve Gomez thanks for that for more. On how you might know if you were affected what you can do what the settlement means for everybody I'm happy to have Justin Berkman. What this year from consumer reports is the director of the consumer privacy and technology. Top policy outfit just too great to see you. So let's just take a step back routes it did the news today is the settlement but how can people know if they were. Actually impacted by the hacked to begin with two years ago. Yes saw 148 million record for a hit. If you're an adult American nation probably presume that yours was included in that he should presume you're you shouldn't do you should presume a fact such a have a tool you can go to their site. That and a little bit of personal information and they'll tell you that they think you're in the database. Circus is so many people had that data. Leaked that doesn't necessarily mean that it was used for nefarious purposes. That's right accident that she very little indication of Equifax data was used for data breach. Thumb that said there's lots of data reaches out there you should probably presume someone has access to information these price take some sort of effort to protect it. Edit and what do we know about who's eligible if in fact you were a victim of fraud. If in fact is someone took to structure Social Security number from Equifax opened a new credit card in and went on a spending spree in your name. In today's settlement 650 million how can you get a slice of that party apply for. Yes the first if you signed up for credit monitoring after that affects priest you're able to get reimbursed for some of that. They'll pay for critter monitoring going forward. Palm is really tricky if you experienced identity theft to know why regular exist ask someone else's right. Thomas those can be really really hard to demonstrate that they said going to be available. I'm actually pretty skeptical. Com probably the smartest thing you can do there was this get a credit freeze those that are paying someone to watch your credit and see how this info and open an account. I'm you can go to east of the credit bureaus and say. Dolan aim and have this until I re unfreeze it. And would you recommend credit freeze for anybody that thinks there are risks are only people who've experienced some sort of reform. I think it's a good idea to have to freeze it no matter what and then if you actually need to you get a credit card you need to apply for mortgage and unfreeze it. On their required to make it pretty quick and easy now do online can be done in a matter of minutes and thumb but otherwise immune. Just presume your data is out there in that bag guys have access to it. If he don't took credit freeze credit monitoring is better than nothing. And then. This still annual critter report dot com you can go once a year get access to your your credit record seeing. And finally just in this is great advice and mean Democrats are hammering this agreement today right Iran now widening of Morgan senator Baer said. Pointed out and intercede observation in all of this he says unlike a breach of tartar her Home Depot or another company. Where you can simply take your wallet and shop elsewhere if they breach were really beholden to these credit agencies and there's really nothing that Americans can do besides protect its. That's right come one good thing about the settlement is that at a pact is going to be required to spend a billion dollars actually more than that on data security going forward. Armed overall part of the settlement they're paying out 506 and been in million dollars. I'm so there's a lot of consequences for what went wrong here. Palm one thing Dallas some policy makers were considering which might be a good idea is credit freeze by default so is thumb credit freezes your credit records are often ended only when you 12 make it available do you have an economical and good advice just in that corporate from a consumer reports think you similar.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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