25 Jul 2019

Equifax’s $10 Billion Bet. You Really Don’t Care (Enough to Do Something)

With so many big-name data breaches in recent times, your eyes may have glossed over the recent Equifax consumer data breach settlement. The numbers were big, 147 million consumers had their sensitive information exposed. The penalty, $700 million (or about $5 per person). Source: New York Times, Krebs.

Factored into this amount are ways in which consumers can request extra perks, compensation for time spent dealing with the breach and worry about that might happen for the next ten years.

The price of the worry? $125. You can request $125 cash from Equifax or 10 years of free credit monitoring.

So what is this $10 billion bet Equifax is making? They are assuming almost no one (about 2%) of people pay attention to these things. If 2% claimed their $125, and the attorneys that fought for the consumer protection get their portion, the $700 million settlement target is hit.

What would happen if half claimed their $125 cash value of the credit monitoring? It seems Equifax would be on the hook for $10 billion in cash payments. That is substantial for any company (other than perhaps some of the FAANGs, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google).

Why should you care? If you are in business and work with clients, and have to communicate their sensitive information, there may be no need to worry. After all (assuming you believe the Equifax and consumer lawyers are savvy, and their assumption sound), only 2% of people will care and take action; not 50%.

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