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  • Credit Reporting Agencies Must Comply With Emergency Regulations

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On Tuesday, New York State adopted emergency regulations intended to “provide consumers with the means to protect themselves against identity theft” and assist those consumers who have fallen victim to such theft.  The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (the Division), which has the authority to promulgate rules and regulations related to consumer protection activities of all state agencies, announced the adoption of regulations as part of its Identify Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program (the Program). In a press release issued December 12 by the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the regulations will require consumer credit reporting agencies to comply with the following, among other things:

    • provide responses within 10 days to information requests made by the Division when investigating, mediating, or mitigating a consumer’s identity theft complaint;
    • identify dedicated points of contact to assist the Division’s effective administering of the program;
    • make available to the Division a list and description of all business affiliations and contractual relationships that provide identity theft and credit monitoring-related products or services; and
    • clearly disclose all fees associated with offered products and services marketed to prevent identity theft, and inform consumers of trial and cancellation provisions.

    Consumer credit reporting agencies will be required to comply with these regulations, effective immediately. A to-be-announced public comment period will occur prior to the regulations’ final adoption.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has taken several steps to address cybersecurity concerns, including a September 18 announcement that the state would expand cybersecurity standards to cover credit reporting agencies. Under the proposed regulation, credit reporting agencies would be subject to compliance examinations, would be required to initially register with NYDFS, and would be required to comply with cybersecurity regulations starting on April 4, 2018, in accordance with a phased-in compliance schedule.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues Data Breach Credit Rating Agencies NYDFS

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  • Ride-Sharing Company Announces Data Breach; State Attorneys General Launch Investigations

    State Issues

    On November 21, a ride-sharing company disclosed via press release a 2016 data breach that exposed the personal data of 57 million riders and drivers. According to the company, an outside forensic investigation revealed that in October 2016 hackers obtained approximately 600,000 driver names and license numbers, along with rider names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers. The company claimed that hackers did not obtain driver or passenger social security, credit card, bank account, birth date, or trip location information. Though the company stated that it has taken action to address the delay in notifying affected individuals and regulators, lawsuits filed by the State of Washington and the City of Chicago claim that the company capitulated to hackers’ demands and “paid the hackers to delete the consumer data and keep quiet about the breach.”

    According to a letter from the company to the Washington attorney general attached to the state’s complaint, the company “is taking personnel actions with respect to some of those involved in the handling of the incident.” The company further stated that it has “implemented and will implement further technical security measures, including improvements related to both access controls and encryption.”

    According to sources, three separate class action lawsuits have been filed against the company as a result of the 2016 breach (see here, here, and here) and five attorneys general (New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Missouri) have launched investigations.

    The 2016 data breach follows a settlement in January of that year with the New York Attorney General related to allegations that the company failed to promptly disclose a 2014 data breach.  The 2014 data breach involved an alleged failure to prevent unauthorized access to the company’s consumer and driver data maintained on a third-party cloud service provider. As previously reported in InfoBytes in August, the company reached a settlement with the FTC related to the 2014 data breach; however, that settlement was entered into before the company disclosed the existence of the 2016 breach.

    In a related development, on November 27, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed without prejudice a putative class action lawsuit against the company related to the 2014 data breach. The court held that the driver’s name, license number, and limited banking information disclosed in the breach was not the type of personally identifiable information that could expose plaintiffs to the risk of identity theft. Accordingly, the court dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing. The court also granted plaintiffs a final opportunity to amend their complaint to address the standing deficiencies.

    State Issues Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach State AG FTC Class Action Settlement Courts

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  • 50-State Class Action Complaint Filed Against Credit Reporting Company in Response to September Data Breach Announcement

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On November 10, plaintiffs, and the members of the class and subclasses they seek to represent, filed a complaint in the Northern District of Georgia against a major credit reporting company, consolidating individual suits filed against the company since September in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs allege that the company’s data breach (covered previously in InfoBytes)—in which hackers exploited a website application vulnerability to access names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, as well as roughly 209,000 credit card numbers—has led to, among other things, identity theft, unauthorized credit and debit card charges, and applications for unauthorized student loans.

    The complaint alleges a series of missteps by the company before, during, and after the breach, including: (i) not applying a recommended security patch; (ii) failing to recognize the breach for over three months; (iii) not warning consumers for another month after discovering the breach, thus preventing timely credit freezes or other protection methods; (iv) sending confusing emails and notices to consumers about whose data was compromised and how to protect themselves after the breach; and (v) creating confusion as to whether an arbitration clause included in the terms of service for the company’s credit monitoring website would apply to consumers using the service.

    The plaintiffs seek, among other things, class certification; permanent injunctive relief; disgorgement and restitutions of earnings; compensatory, consequential, general, statutory, and punitive damages; declaratory relief; and attorneys’ fees.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Consumer Finance Class Action State Issues

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  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Examines Consumer Data Security

    Federal Issues

    On November 1, the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection (Subcommittee) held a hearing entitled “Securing Consumers’ Credit Data in the Age of Digital Commerce” to examine: (i) the legal and regulatory framework for consumer reporting agencies, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act; (ii) current cybersecurity standards, best practices, threats, and vulnerabilities; and (iii) how data breaches relate to incidences of identity theft and fraud. In introductory remarks, Subcommittee Chairman, Bob Latta (R-Ohio), acknowledged the need to understand ways to protect against data breaches and secure consumer data. This sentiment was echoed by Full Committee Chairman, Greg Walden (R-Or.), who noted in his opening statement that recent data breaches “demonstrate the challenges of protecting consumer information in the digital age.” The full list of witnesses, testimony, and committee background memo is available here.

    Federal Issues Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security House Energy and Commerce Committee Data Breach

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  • District of Columbia Mayor Signs Emergency Legislation Temporarily Prohibiting Credit Freeze Fees

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On October 23, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed emergency legislation (Act 22 155) that prohibits credit reporting agencies (CRAs) from charging consumers fees for security credit freezes. The Credit Protection Fee Waiver Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 requires CRAs to provide security freeze services and one-time reissuances of passwords or PINs to consumers for free, but permits charging up to $10 for subsequent instances of password or PIN requests. The Act took effect immediately and will remain in effect for a maximum of 90 days.

    As previously covered in InfoBytes, a coalition of state attorneys general recently petitioned two major CRAs to cease charging fees for credit freezes.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Credit Reporting Agency Consumer Finance State Legislation Data Breach

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  • Senate Judiciary Tech Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Data Breach; New Credit Reporting Agency CEO Speaks Out

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On September 27, interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., spoke out for the first time since a major credit reporting agency (agency) appointed him to the role the previous day. In addition to issuing an apology, Barros stated that the agency is extending the deadline to sign up for their credit monitoring services and free credit freezes through the end of January 2018. He also made the commitment that by January 31, the agency will offer a new service for consumers to control access to their personal credit data. As previously reported in InfoBytes, the agency is still in the process of responding to the data breach that impacted approximately 143 million U.S. consumers.

    On October 4, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will hold a hearing on the agency’s data breach to continue to monitor data-broker cybersecurity. The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 pm in the Dirksen Senate Office Building 226.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Credit Reporting Agency Data Breach Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Consumer Finance

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  • SEC Chairman Releases Statement Discussing Internal Cybersecurity Assessment, Announces EDGAR Vulnerability May Have Led to Illicit Gain

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On September 20, the SEC released a statement issued by Chairman Jay Clayton regarding the Commission’s approach to cybersecurity and its impact on market participants. Topics discussed in the statement, which is part of the SEC’s ongoing assessment of its cybersecurity risk profile, include:

    • the collection and use of data by the SEC;
    • the management of, and responses to, internal cybersecurity risks;
    •  the integration and incorporation of cybersecurity considerations into the SEC’s supervision of regulated entities;
    • coordinated efforts with other regulations to identify and mitigate risk; and
    • oversight and enforcement efforts related to cybersecurity activities.

    The Chairman also discussed the SEC’s discovery in August that a 2016 security incident involving a software vulnerability within the Commission’s EDGAR system “may have provided the basis for illicit gain through trading” by providing access to nonpublic information. However, the SEC also stated its belief that “the intrusion did not result in the unauthorized access to personally identifiable information, jeopardize the operations of the Commission, or result in systemic risk.” According to the SEC, the vulnerability was patched promptly after discovery, and the SEC commenced an internal investigation, which is ongoing.

    Chairman Clayton is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on September 26 at a hearing titled, “Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security SEC Senate Banking Committee EDGAR Data Breach

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  • Data Breach Fallout Continues: Lawsuit Filed by Massachusetts AG, NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation to Possibly Include Credit Reporting Agencies, and Joint Letter Sent From 34 States Requesting Fee-Based Credit Monitoring Service Be Disabled

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    The impact from the September 7 announcement that a major credit reporting agency suffered a data breach continues to be far reaching. On September 15, the agency issued a press release announcing additional information concerning its internal investigation, as well as responses to consumer concerns about arbitration and class-action waiver provisions in the Terms of Use applicable to its support package and regarding security freezes.

    Massachusetts AG Lawsuit. On September 19, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced it had filed the first enforcement action in the nation against the credit reporting agency. The complaint, filed in Massachusetts Superior Court, alleges that the agency ignored cybersecurity vulnerabilities for months before the breach occurred and claims that the agency could have prevented the data breach had it “implemented and maintained reasonable safeguards, consistent with representations made to the public in its privacy policies, industry standards, and the requirements of [the Massachusetts Data Security Regulations],” which went into effect March 1, 2010. The failure to secure the consumer information in its possession, the complaint asserts, constitutes an “egregious violation of Massachusetts consumer protection and data privacy laws.” Causes of action under the complaint arise from (i) the agency’s failure to provide prompt notice to the commonwealth or the public; (ii) the agency’s failure to safeguard consumers’ personal information; and (iii) the agency engaging in unfair and deceptive acts and practices under Massachusetts law. The commonwealth seeks, among other things, civil penalties, disgorgement of profits, and restitution.

    NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation. On September 18, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released a notice directing the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to issue a proposed regulation that would expand the state’s “first-in-the-nation” cybersecurity standard to include credit reporting agencies and to require the agencies to register with NYDFS. The annual reporting obligation would, according to a press release issued by NYDFS, grant it the authority to deny or revoke a credit reporting agency’s authorization to do business with New York’s regulated financial institutions should the agency be found in violation of certain prohibited activities, including engaging in unfair, deceptive or predatory practices. Under the proposed regulation, credit reporting agencies would be subject to compliance examinations by NYDFS, would be required to initially register with NYDFS by February 1, 2018 and annually thereafter, and would be required to comply with cybersecurity regulations starting on April 4, 2018, in accordance with a phased-in compliance schedule. On the same day, NYDFS issued a separate press release urging New York state chartered and licensed financial institutions to take immediate action to protect consumers in light of the recent credit reporting agency data breach. The guidance presented in the release by the NYDFS is provided in conjunction with the state’s cybersecurity regulations.

    State Attorneys General Request. On September 15, a letter co-authored by 34 state attorneys general was sent to the credit reporting agency’s legal counsel. The letter expresses concern over the agency’s conduct since the disclosure of the breach, including the offer of both fee-based and a free credit monitoring services, the waiver of certain consumer rights under the agency’s terms of service, and the charges incurred by consumers for a security freeze with other credit monitoring companies. Specifically, the attorneys general objected to the agency “using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims,” and argued that “[s]elling a fee-based product that competes with [the agency’s] own free offer of credit monitoring services to [data breach victims] is unfair, particularly if consumers are not sure if their information was compromised.” Accordingly, the letter requests that the agency temporarily disable links to fee-based services and extend the offer of free services until at least January 31, 2018. Further, the letter also expresses concern that consumers must pay for a security freeze with other credit monitoring companies and states that the agency should reimburse consumers who incur fees to completely freeze their credit.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Credit Reporting Agency State AG NYDFS Enforcement Data Breach

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  • Legislators, State Attorneys General, and Consumers React to Credit Reporting Agency Data Breach

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    As previously reported in InfoBytes, a major credit reporting agency suffered a data breach from mid-May through the end of July that impacted approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Shortly after the agency disclosed the breach, several Republican and Democratic lawmakers promised legislative action. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Haw.) reintroduced the Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act to address these issues. In addition, two committees—the House Financial Services Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee—both announced plans to hold hearings on the breach (dates still to be released). Separately, Representative Ted Lieu (D-Cal.) sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee requesting a hearing to investigate how and why the data breach occurred, and what measures can be taken to prevent future incidents.

    At least two class action lawsuits have been filed—in Georgia and Oregon—as a result of the breach, and several state attorneys general, including New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, have launched investigations into the matter. The CFPB also released a blog post for consumers on ways to identify signs of fraud or identity theft.

    Notably, on September 11, the agency issued an update for consumers announcing that “in response to consumer inquiries,” the arbitration clause and class action waiver included in its terms of use will not “apply to this cybersecurity incident.” The CFPB’s final arbitration rule, which prohibits the use of mandatory pre-disputer arbitration clauses, has been a point of considerable debate this summer, with the House voting to repeal the proposed rule and the Senate introducing a similar measure (see InfoBytes post here), while a coalition of state attorneys general have issued support for the proposed rule (see InfoBytes post here).

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Class Action State AG

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  • Credit Reporting Agency Announces Widespread Consumer Data Breach

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On September 7, a major credit reporting agency issued a press release announcing a data breach that impacts approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. An internal investigation revealed that from mid-May through the end of July 2017, hackers exploited a website application vulnerability to access names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, as well as roughly 209,000 credit card numbers. The company discovered the breach on July 29 and “acted immediately to stop the intrusion.” A “leading, independent cybersecurity firm” has been hired to recommend security improvements, and the company is working with law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, the press release states that “the company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on [its] core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.” A website has been set up to assist consumers trying to determine if their information has been affected and offers credit file monitoring and identify theft protection.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Credit Reporting Agency Data Breach

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