Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Consumer Settlements

When consumer protection settlements by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office include consumer restitution, we post the information here.  Please see below for more detailed information and instructions for each settlement listed below.

Equifax Settlement

Equifax data breach settlement

Following a 2017 data breach affecting over 147 million Americans, 251,419 of which were Vermonters whose personal data was compromised, a settlement has been reached with Equifax.  The personal data released in the breach included social security numbers, birth data, and addresses (in all instances) and driver’s licenses, credit card numbers, some credit dispute documents (in some instances).  The settlement addresses breach concerns by designating up to $425 million to consumer restitution and $175 million to be paid directly to the states. The Vermont General Fund will receive $1.85 million to be appropriated by the Vermont legislature.

Once the class action court approves the settlement, consumers will be able to use a lookup tool to determine if they are party to the settlement and file claims for consumer restitution at the following site:

www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com

Consumers can also call 1-833-759-2982 toll-free.

Individuals will be able to submit claims by website or by mail.  You may call and request a complaint form to be mailed, or download the form from the website.

To be notified about breach settlement updates, go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USFTC/subscriber/new?topic_id=USFTC_109 and submit your email address.  The Federal Trade Commission will send consumers email notifications.

For more important FAQs regarding this settlement, visit https://www.ftc.gov/equifax-data-breach

Settlement terms
The terms of the multi-state Attorney General settlement are as follows:

    • Equifax will offer affected consumers free credit monitoring services to all affected consumers;
    • Equifax will provide free Identity Theft Restoration services to all affected consumers;
    • Equifax will strengthen its data security practices to help protect against another breach
    • Equifax will take several steps to assist consumers:
      • with understanding their credit report;
      • with disputing inaccurate entries on their credit report, including credit report entries that are the result of identity theft;
      • who have become the victim of identity theft; and
      • including assisting active duty military members and their families with credit report issues unique to military members
    • Equifax will pay $300 million into a settlement fund for the benefit of affected consumers, with the possibility of paying up to an additional $125 million into the settlement fund, for a total of $425 million; and
    • Equifax will pay $175 million to the states, $1.85 million of which will go to Vermont.
    • Equifax will not enforce its contractual rights for a class action waiver or arbitration requirements for any disputes resulting from the 2017 breach.
    • Equifax will develop a consumer assistance process to help consumers understand their credit reports, assist them in placing fraud alerts and freezes, and refer contacts to federal and state resources for additional identity theft protection and other help.
    • Equifax will implement an information security program with appropriate personnel and safeguards.
    • Equifax will provide notice of the types of info Equifax collects, how it protects the information, how it uses the information, what info is shared, and what control consumers have over the information on the Equifax homepage and other websites.
Restitution and consumer settlement fund
The settlement is being handled by a settlement administrator who is maintaining a website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) and a toll-free number (1-833-759-2982).  Once the class action court approves the settlement, Equifax will provide a lookup tool on the settlement website that you can use to determine whether you are affected by the data breach.  You will be required to input the last 6 digits of your Social Security Number that Equifax will use only to determine whether you are one of the affected consumers.

Credit Monitoring Services 

Free credit monitoring services are available for Vermonters whose personal data was compromised:

  • For Adults
    • Free three-bureau credit monitoring for 4 years (in addition to credit monitoring already offered)
    • Monitoring will include a $1 million ID theft insurance policy
    • After three-bureau monitoring expires, consumers will get one bureau monitoring for 6 more years
  • For Minors
    • Free 18 years of credit monitoring (4-years three-bureau, 14-years one bureau)
    • 2 free credit reports every 12 months for 5 years
    • Equifax won’t charge anyone for credit freezes or for any of the earlier breach response services
    • No upselling to other services

Reimbursements

Affected consumers are eligible to request the following types of reimbursements by submitting a claim to the settlement fund:

  • As an alternative to free credit monitoring (detailed above), consumers can opt to obtain up to $125 cash payment and use it to purchase credit monitoring from another vendor; claim must be submitted.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses incurred trying to avoid or recover from identity theft, such as costs for freezing your credit report (before they were free), professional fees paid to address identity theft, postage, etc.
  • Time spent trying to avoid or recover from identity theft (up to 20 total hours at $25/hour)

Please check the www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com website often for the most recent updates, including claim deadlines.

What is identity theft?

A breach does not necessarily mean you are a victim of identity theft. A breach means you are now susceptible to identity theft.

Identity theft is the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to obtain credit, goods, services, money or property (for more information on Vermont laws regarding privacy and data security, click here).

Identity theft may involve fraudulent use of credit card or bank account information.  In some cases, your social security number and other personal information may be used to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses, lines of credit, loans or other consumer accounts.

I think I am a victim of identity theft. What steps should I take?

      • Review your credit reports carefully for any unauthorized accounts. You can obtain your free credit report from each of the Credit Reporting Bureaus through annualcreditreport.com.  If you find anything that should not be there, be sure to save a copy of the report.  Then, contact the credit reporting agency to dispute all inaccurate items.
      • Place a fraud alert or consider a freeze on your credit reports. Freezing your credit report could help prevent unauthorized creation of new accounts using your information. Freezing your credit report does not mean freezing your bank account, or that you won’t be able to use your credit card. You can find out more information from the Federal Trade Commission about fraud alerts and freezing your credit files.  Learn more about credit freezes on the Consumer Assistance Program blog.
      • To place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit files, contact the credit reporting agencies listed here:

EQUIFAX or 866-349-5191, press option 3 for the automated system or option 5 for a representative
EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742
TRANSUNION or 1-800-680-7289
INNOVIS or 1-800-540-2505

Learn more identity theft protection steps on our website.

Credit explained: How credit bureaus have so much information
When the 2017 breach was first announced, one of the concerns CAP received was that consumers had never heard of “Equifax” before and did not believe they were a consumer of the business.  We wrote a response blog to help explain consumer credit called, “How did they get that? Credit reporting and your personal information…

 

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. Settlement

Wells Fargo Settlement Now Available

As a result of a settlement with the State of Vermont, Wells Fargo Bank will provide restitution to certain customers. The settlement stems from claims that Wells Fargo opened unauthorized accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent, improperly charged auto loan customers for unnecessary insurance, failed to provide refunds for certain auto financing products, and incorrectly charged mortgage customers fees for extending rate locks.

Wells Fargo created a website for consumers to use to access the program and will provide periodic reports to the states about ongoing restitution efforts.

 

 

How will I know if I am eligible for restitution?
Through this settlement, Wells Fargo has created a consumer redress review program through which consumers who have not been made whole through other restitution programs already in place can seek review of their inquiry or complaint by a bank escalation team for possible relief.

Wells Fargo created a website for consumers to use to access the program and will provide periodic reports to the states about ongoing restitution efforts.

Consumers with questions or concerns may call the following Wells Fargo phone numbers:

  • Unauthorized Accounts / Improper Retail Sales Practices: 1-844-931-2273
  • Improper Renters and Life Insurance Referrals: 1-855-853-9638
  • Force-Placed Collateral Protection Auto Insurance (“CPI“): 1-888-228-9735
  • Guaranteed Asset/Auto Protection (“GAP”) Refunds: 1-844-860-6962
  • Mortgage Interest Rate Lock Extension Fees: 1-866-385-5008

 

Career Education Corporation Settlement

For-profit education company Career Education Corp. (CEC) has settled with the State of Vermont over unfair and deceptive practices relating to misrepresentations about quality of education, employment prospects, and costs of student loans. CEC has agreed to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally, in a settlement with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and 48 other attorneys general. The State will receive $50,000. There are 129 Vermont students impacted, and they will receive approximately $270,000 in debt relief.

Who can I contact with questions about the settlement and debt forgiveness?
Former students with questions about the settlement and potential debt forgiveness can contact:

What schools did CEC operate?
CEC is based in Schaumburg, Illinois, and currently offers primarily online courses through American InterContinental University and Colorado Technical University. CEC has closed or phased out many of its schools over the past 10 years. Its brands have included Briarcliffe College, Brooks Institute, Brown College, Harrington College of Design, International Academy of Design & Technology, Le Cordon Bleu, Missouri College, and Sanford-Brown.

Fiat Chrysler and Bosch Settlement

As a result of a settlement with the State of Vermont, Fiat Chrysler and Bosch will provide restitution to certain customers. The settlement stems from claims that Fiat Chrysler and Bosch allegedly undermined auto emission regulations and harmed consumers by adding unlawful “defeat devices” to diesel vehicles. Starting January 24, 2019, consumers will be able to receive updates on the settlement by signing up on the settlement website with their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) , name and contact information.  The website is www.EcoDieselSettlement.com or by phone at 1-833-280-4748.

Which vehicles are covered by this settlement?
 The specific vehicles covered by the settlement are the following vehicles equipped with an EcoDiesel engine purchased or leased in the U.S.:

  • 2014       Ram 1500
  • 2014       Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2015       Ram 1500
  • 2015       Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2016       Ram 1500
  • 2016      Jeep Grand Cherokee
What are the benefits this settlement?

Category

Benefits

Class Member Payment

**Eligible Owners and Eligible Lessees who participate in the Claims Program MUST complete an Approved Emissions Modification to Receive the Class Member Payment**

Eligible Owner

(acquired vehicle on or before January 12, 2017)

Owner Payment

+

Approved Emission Modification

+

Extended Warranty

$3,075

Eligible Owner

(acquired vehicle after January 12, 2017)

(does not apply to owners of vehicles that were leased as of January 10, 2019, who are treated as Eligible Lessees, and not Eligible Owners)

Owner Payment

+

Approved Emission Modification

+

Extended Warranty

$2,460

(if an Eligible Former Owner or Eligible Former Lessee of the vehicle also makes a valid claim for benefits)

OR

$3,075

(if no other Class Member makes a valid claim for benefits related to the same vehicle)

Eligible Former Owner

Former Owner Payment

$990

Eligible Lessee

Lessee Payment

+

Approved Emission Modification

+

Extended Warranty

$990

Eligible Former Lessee

 

Former Lessee Payment

$990

What are the important dates and deadlines?

DEADLINES/DATES

  • January 24, 2019: Consumers will be able to receive updates on the settlement by signing up on the settlement website with their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) , name and contact information.  The website is EcoDieselSettlement.com or by phone at 1-833-280-4748
  • April 29 to May 3, 2019: expected week of the Court’s final approval of the settlement.
  • 21 months from the Court’s final approval: eligible consumers who still own or lease covered vehicles must submit a claim form within 21 months.
  • 90 days from the Court’s final approval: Eligible consumers wo previously owned a covered vehicle but sold it after January 12, 2017 or who previously leased a covered vehicle but whose lease terminated after January 12, 2017, must submit a claim form within 90 days.
  • 60 or 90 days: Eligible consumer who owned or leased their vehicles as of January 12, 2017 and transferred title/surrendered the lease to an insurance company or equivalent after January 10, 2019 as a result of a total loss, but before receiving the fix, must submit a claim form by the later of 90 days of the Courts final approval of the settlement or 60 days of the title transfer/lease surrender