COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2023
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
Canadian Class Actions. In 2017, we experienced a cybersecurity incident following a criminal attack on our systems that involved the theft of personal information of consumers. Five putative Canadian class actions, four of which are on behalf of a national class of approximately 19,000 Canadian consumers, are pending against us in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Each of the proposed Canadian class actions asserts a number of common law and statutory claims seeking monetary damages and other related relief in connection with the 2017 cybersecurity incident. In addition to seeking class certification on behalf of Canadian consumers whose personal information was allegedly impacted by the 2017 cybersecurity incident, in some cases, plaintiffs also seek class certification on behalf of a larger group of Canadian consumers who had contracts for subscription products with Equifax around the time of the incident or earlier and were not impacted by the incident.
On December 13, 2019, the court in Ontario granted certification of a nationwide class that includes all impacted Canadians as well as Canadians who had subscription products with Equifax between March 7, 2017 and July 30, 2017 who were not impacted by the incident. We appealed one of the claims on which a class was certified and on June 9, 2021, our appeal was granted by the Ontario Divisional Court. The plaintiff filed a notice of further appeal with the Ontario Court of Appeal, and on November 25, 2022, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal and upheld the Divisional Court’s ruling in our favor. On January 24, 2023, the plaintiff appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. All remaining purported class actions are at preliminary stages or stayed.
FCA Investigation. The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) opened an enforcement investigation against our U.K. subsidiary, Equifax Limited, in October 2017 in connection with the 2017 cybersecurity incident. The investigation by the FCA has involved a number of information requirements and interviews. We have responded to the information requirements and continue to cooperate with the investigation. We have been advised by the FCA that it intends to send us a notice with the FCA's findings and proposed penalty, which we anticipate will result in the initiation of settlement discussions. At this time, we are unable to predict the outcome of this FCA investigation, including whether the investigation will result in any settlement, action or proceeding against us.
Data Processing, Outsourcing Services and Other Agreements
We have separate agreements with Google, Amazon Web Services, UST Global, Kyndryl and others to outsource portions of our network and security infrastructure, computer data processing operations, applications development, business continuity and recovery services, help desk service and desktop support functions, operation of our voice and data networks, maintenance and related functions and to provide certain other administrative and operational services. The agreements expire between 2023 and 2028. Annual payment obligations in regard to these agreements vary due to factors such as the volume of data processed; changes in our servicing needs as a result of new product offerings, acquisitions or divestitures; the introduction of significant new technologies; foreign currency; or the general rate of inflation. In certain circumstances (e.g., a change in control or for our convenience), we may terminate these data processing and outsourcing agreements, and, in doing so, certain of these agreements require us to pay significant termination fees.
Guarantees and General Indemnifications
We may issue standby letters of credit and performance and surety bonds in the normal course of business. The aggregate notional amounts of all performance and surety bonds and standby letters of credit was not material at March 31, 2023 and generally have a remaining maturity of one year or less. We may issue other guarantees in the ordinary course of business. The maximum potential future payments we could be required to make under the guarantees in the ordinary course of business was not material at March 31, 2023. We have agreed to guarantee the liabilities and performance obligations (some of which have limitations) of a certain debt collections and recovery management subsidiary under its commercial agreements.
We have agreed to standard indemnification clauses in many of our lease agreements for office space, covering such things as tort, environmental and other liabilities that arise out of or relate to our use or occupancy of the leased premises. Certain of our credit agreements include provisions which require us to make payments to preserve an expected economic return to the lenders if that economic return is diminished due to certain changes in law or regulations. In conjunction with certain transactions, such as sales or purchases of operating assets or services in the ordinary course of business, or the disposition of certain assets or businesses, we sometimes provide routine indemnifications, the terms of which range in duration and sometimes are not limited. Additionally, the Company has entered into indemnification agreements with its directors and executive officers to indemnify such individuals to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law against liabilities that arise by reason of their status as directors or officers. The Company maintains directors and officers liability insurance coverage to reduce its exposure to such obligations.
We cannot reasonably estimate our potential future payments under the guarantees and indemnities and related provisions described above because we cannot predict when and under what circumstances these provisions may be triggered.
In addition to the matters set forth above, we are involved in legal and regulatory matters, government investigations, claims and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business. We periodically assess our exposure related to these matters based on the information which is available. We have recorded accruals in our Consolidated Financial Statements for those matters in which it is probable that we have incurred a loss and the amount of the loss, or range of loss, can be reasonably estimated.
For additional information about these and other commitments and contingencies, see Note 6 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in our 2022 Form 10-K.