Iowa to receive $152,000; companies agree to improve data protection practices
DES MOINES – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, along with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, announced three multistate settlements with Experian and T-Mobile totaling more than $16 million over data breaches that occurred in 2012 and 2015. The breaches compromised the personal information of millions of consumers, including more than 25,000 Iowans.
Under the settlements, Iowa will receive a total of $152,389.80. The companies have also agreed to improve their data security practices and provide extended credit monitoring services to affected consumers.
“Protecting consumers’ personal information should be a top priority, not only for credit reporting agencies, but all businesses,” Miller said. “Experian and T-Mobile have had multiple breaches in the last 10 years. The terms of this settlement will help ensure that consumers’ information will be protected from unlawful breaches in the future.”
In September 2015, Experian, one of the big-three credit reporting bureaus, reported it had 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 information associated with consumers who had applied for T-Mobile services and device financing between September 2013 and September 2015, including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, identification numbers (such as driver’s license and passport numbers), and related information used in T-Mobile’s own credit assessments.
More than 25,000 Iowans were affected by the 2015 breach. Neither Experian’s consumer credit database, nor T-Mobile’s own systems, were compromised in the breach.
A 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 five 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. If you were a class member in a 2019 class action settlement with Experian, 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 six 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 announced by T-Mobile in August 2021, which is still under investigation by a multistate coalition of attorneys general.
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.