Pennsylvania, along with a coalition of other attorneys general, has obtained two multistate settlements with Experian concerning data breaches it experienced in 2012 and 2015 that compromised the personal information of 484,147 Pennsylvanians. An additional settlement was reached with T-Mobile in connection with the 2015 Experian breach, which impacted more than 400,000 Pennsylvania consumers 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. Pennsylvania will receive $464,000 from these settlements.
“These data breaches will keep happening until we force change in corporate behavior,” said AG Shapiro. “Experian and T-Mobile failed in their responsibility to safeguard consumers’ personal information. Their systems were vulnerable to a massive data breach, and the personal identifying information for millions of Americans was put at risk. This settlement ensures that Experian & T-Mobile must do the right thing and fix the security failures that led to a preventable data breach.”
In September 2015, Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, reported it had experienced a data breach in which an unauthorized actor gained access to part of Experian’s network that stored personal information on behalf of its client, T-Mobile. The breach involved information associated with consumers who had applied for T-Mobile postpaid services and device financing between September 2013 and September 2015. The information accessed included 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. Neither Experian’s consumer credit database, nor T-Mobile’s 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. As part of 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 time frame. Consumers who were class members in the 2019 class action settlement, are still 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 risk 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.
Experian has agreed to pay an additional $1 million to resolve a separate multistate investigation into another Experian-owned company—Experian Data Corp.— in connection with EDC’s failure to prevent and 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 EDC has agreed to strengthen its vetting and oversight of third parties that it provides personal information to, investigate and report data security incidents to the Attorneys General, and maintain a “Red Flags” program to detect and respond to potential identity theft.
Pennsylvanians who believe they may have been affected by a data breach or identity theft, may file a complaint online, or contact our Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.