Equifax Hack Settlement Will Provide at Least $125 to Each Affected Consumer
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Almost two years after a massive data breach was announced, Equifax has now agreed to a “global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories.”
In September 2017, Equifax disclosed that hackers accessed sensitive data for 143 million Americans including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s licenses, credit card numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. The number of affected Americans was later increased by another 2.5 million, and then increased again by another 1.5 million to 147 million.
For nearly two years, Equifax has stumbled through the fallout. The credit reporting agency initially forced users to waive their right to take part in a class action lawsuit. After denying passport information was included, Equifax later admitted that passport photos were stolen. The company even sent letters with incorrect information to those affected.
Americans affected by the data breach are now able to file claims as part of this settlement. If you were one of the 147 million Americans that had data stolen, you’ll have an option between:
- Up to 10 years of free credit monitoring — four years of free credit monitoring of your credit report at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance and up to six more years of free credit monitoring of your Equifax credit report; OR
- $125 if you decide not to enroll because you already have credit monitoring
Those who were under 18 years old as of May 2017 are eligible for 18 years of free credit monitoring.
Affected consumers that have verifiable expenses paid as a result of the breach will be eligible to file for cash payments of up to $20,000 per person. Eligible expenses include:
- Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
- The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
- The cost of credit monitoring
- Fees you paid to professionals like an accountant or attorney
- Other expenses like notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone charges
- For the time you spent dealing with the breach. You can be compensated $25 per hour up to 20 hours.
- For the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, capped at 25% of the total amount you paid.
In addition, Equifax will provide “free identity restoration services” for at least seven years. Starting in 2020, all US consumers can get six additional free credit reports from the Equifax website per year for the next seven years.
Although a court still needs to approve this settlement, claims can now be made on this website. There’s no documentation needed for claiming the 10 years of credit monitoring or the $125 cash payment. However, if you’re filing a claim for money or time spent, you’ll need to upload documentation to support the claim. The settlement claim website lists the following documentation that you might need:
- Costs, expenses, losses due to identity theft
- Account statement with unauthorized charges highlighted; police reports; IRS documents; FTC Identity Theft Reports; letters refusing to refund you for fraudulent charges
- Costs for freezing or unfreezing your credit report on or after 9/7/2017
- Receipts, notices, or account statements reflecting payment for a credit freeze
- Credit monitoring purchased after the data breach
- Receipts or statements for credit monitoring services
- Professional fees paid to address identity theft
- Receipts, bills, and invoices from accountants, lawyers, or others
- Other expenses such as notary, fax, postage, copying, mileage, and long-distance telephone charges
- Phone bills, receipts, detailed list of places you traveled (i.e. police station, IRS office), reason why you traveled there (i.e. police report or letter from IRS re: falsified tax return) and number of miles you traveled
The Federal Trade Commission recommends saving any documents you have related to your efforts to avoid or recover from identity theft after the 2017 Equifax data breach, signing up to get email updates about this settlement and checking this page for updates.
This post has been updated since publishing to reflect that claims can now be filed.
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