If you live in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, you've likely heard about the Equifax security breach that occurred in 2017. This was the attack where hackers were able to get personal information of more than 145 million Americans. Recently, Equifax has agreed to a settlement of up to $700 million dollars to compensate individuals impacted by the breach.
How does this impact me?
In order to determine if you were affected, Equifax has created a look-up tool. Equifax's records must indicate that your personal information was impacted by the incident in order to be eligible for the benefits described below. If you are eligible, you have two options to select from.
Cash Option: Option 1 is to select a cash payment of up to $125 to compensate you for your troubles. However, these funds are limited to $31 million dollars. If more than 248,000 people claim this, the actual payout will be lower. In fact, there is already a warning on the FTC page stating that those who opt for the cash option will receive much less than the $125.
Credit Monitoring: Option 2 is to select 10 years of free credit monitoring. Equifax will provide 3-Bureau (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) credit monitoring for 4 years, then an additional 6 years from Equifax only. This is the RECOMMENDED OPTION
Reimbursement Time Spent: All eligible claimants (whether selecting the cash payment or credit monitoring) are also eligible to submit claims for time spent: 1) dealing with fraud, identity theft, or other alleged misuse of your personal information that is fairly traceable to the Data Breach, or (2) taking preventative measures (time placing or removing security freezes on your credit report, or purchasing credit monitoring or identity protection) that are fairly traceable to the security breach. Claimants can be reimbursed for up to 20 hours at $25 per hour. For more information go here.
Reimbursement for Out of Pocket Losses: If you spent money to deal with fraud or identity theft that was fairly traceable to the security breach, or to protect yourself from future harm, then you can submit a claim for reimbursement up to $20,000 (in addition to your claim for time spent). Visit here or a full list of losses eligible for reimbursement.
Extra Perk for Minors: If you were a minor when the breach occurred in May of 2017 and were impacted, you're eligible for 18 years of free credit monitoring! So let your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their parents know, because they're less likely to be aware of this perk.
How do I submit a claim?
Submitting a claim is incredibly easy. You simply go to the specific FTC page for the Equifax data breach, click on the "File A Claim" button, then fill out the electronic form. Filling out the form takes no longer than 5 minutes but must be done by January 22, 2020 or you give up the opportunity to do it (although future losses are eligible for reimbursement through 2024). It's important to be diligent about monitoring your credit in the meantime because the free credit monitoring won't be available until January 2020 at the earliest.
Something for Everyone
Beyond monetary settlements, starting in 2020, Equifax will allow all U.S. consumers to pull up to 6 credit reports a year, for 7 years. This is in addition to the free annual report they are already required to provide (as are the other credit bureaus Experian and TransUnion).
For more details about the settlement you can visit the following resources:
Protection from identity theft is an important consideration in today's digital age and it's imperative for everyone to be diligent about protecting and monitoring their identity.Identity protection not only includes you, but your kids as well!The Equifax Data Breach Settlement is a great opportunity for all impacted consumers to get free credit monitoring. For more tips on protecting yourself from identity theft, read our blog post from 2017.