The Equifax data breach in September 2017 was one of the most extensive and damaging breaches of privacy in the history of digital transacting, exposing the personal information of 147 million people. Now, Equifax has agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission; the $700 million settlement includes $425 million to assist consumers who were victims of the breach.
Anyone whose personal information was affected by the hack can file and submit a claim with Equifax, and there are three types of benefits available:
Free credit monitoring or $125 cash payment if you already have credit monitoring
You have the option of selecting a $125 cash payment (in which case, you must already have credit monitoring in place, which will remain for at least another six months), or up to ten years of free monitoring of your credit, including identity theft insurance. Minors are eligible for a total of 18 years of free credit monitoring.
Cash reimbursement for time and out-of-pocket losses
If you spent time placing credit freezes, spent money on identity monitoring, or paid fees for professional help, you can receive reimbursement. Equifax will compensate individuals $25 per hour up to 20 hours for time spent; any claims exceeding ten hours will require documentation. In addition to reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs, Equifax will also pay up to $20,000 to consumers who suffered fraud, identify theft, or other misuse of their data.
Free assistance recovering from identity theft
Identity theft restoration services are available for the next seven years for any individuals who discover identity theft due to the data breach. If you discover misuse of your personal data, you can contact the settlement administrator to access these services at 1.833.759.2982.
The claims process is open now, and the deadline to file a claim is January 22, 2020 — see below for instructions. Claims won’t be paid out until the final settlement is approved by the court, which is likely to be 2020 at the earliest.
For the Federal Trade Commission’s instructions on how to file a claim, visit https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/equifax-data-breach-settlement
To find out if you are eligible and to file a claim, visit https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/