[Update 8/1/19: Due to the overwhelming response to the data breach settlement, the cash pile to be divided among persons affected is thinning. As of now, the FTC states each person who opts for the cash payment will receive much less than $125. The actual finalized amount is unknown. We now recommend opting for the credit monitoring option instead.]
If you live in the U.S., there’s a one in two chance that some of your sensitive data was exposed in the 2017 Equifax breach. If it was, Equifax owes you.
The credit reporting agency recently settled with the Federal Trade Commission. And, as part of the class action lawsuit, victims of the breach are now able to file a claim to get a piece of the $700 million settlement. Here’s what you should know.
The Equifax Breach
As mentioned earlier, Equifax was impacted by a breach in 2017 that leaked extremely sensitive personal details for nearly 143 million customers.
That data may have included social security numbers, ID information and credit card details. In other words, data that’s extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
As part of its settlement, Equifax announced that it would be paying up to $20,000 to victims of the breach — though before you get too excited, there are some caveats.
Victims of the breach can file a claim for a variety of benefits, including up to 10 years of free credit monitoring and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance. If you already have credit monitoring services, you can opt for $125 in cash instead.
Equifax is also paying out up to $20,000 in cash payments to victims, although only for expenses paid as part of the breach, compensation for time dealing with the breach, or the cost of Equifax services purchased between September 2016 to September 2017 (capped at 25 percent).
Even victims who don’t file a claim may be entitled to some benefits, like free identity theft recovery services. Equifax will also be offering up to six free credit reports per year for the next seven years for all U.S. citizens.
The claims process is currently open. The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 22 2020.
As far as when you’ll get your benefits, it’s unclear. But the FTC says the earliest you can expect them is after Jan. 23, 2020.
Filing a Claim
First off, you need to figure out if you’re eligible to file a claim. You can do so at this website — just enter your surname and the last 6 digits of your social security number.
If you’re eligible, you can file a claim at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com. The process is pretty simple and you can complete it online or print a form and mail it in.
You can find more information on this FTC webpage.