Do you remember the Equifax data breach back in September of 2017?
It turns out that we've reached a point that folks are talking about settlement. They've agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the states.
If you were affected, you are part of the class and are entitled to some compensation. In situations like this, there's free credit monitoring involved and that's not super interesting. This settlement is interesting for a few reasons. First, if you were a minor on May 2017, you get 18 years of free credit monitoring.
And if you already have credit monitoring, you can now get $125 cash if you prefer. And I think that's preferable to MORE monitoring.
(also, starting in 2020, you can get six free credit reports per year for 7 years from Equifax!)
What Can You Get?
If you are impacted, you can get:
Free Credit Monitoring or $125 Cash Payment
The monitoring is at least 4 years of three-bureau monitoring offered through Experian and you can also get up to six more years of free on-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax. If you already have credit monitoring services that will continue for at least 6 months, you can opt for $125 cash.
Other Cash Payments
This is for those who not only had their data stolen but they had to spend time and money dealing with the effects of the breach. So if you spend time dealing with fraud or identity theft or purchased credit monitoring or freezing of reports, you can claim up to 20 total hours at $25 an hour.
If you had actual out of pocket losses, you can get those back too.
Finally, up to 25% the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring products you paid for in the year before the data breach announcement.
The limit of cash payments is $20,000 per person.
Free Identity Restoration Services
Lastly, you are eligible for at least seven years of free assisted identity restoration services to deal with any effects of the breach.
Important Settlement Dates
Like every legal process, this one has a lot of dates and a lot of waiting.
November 19, 2019 – Deadline to Exclude Yourself or Opt-Out of the Settlement and Deadline to Object to the Settlement
December 19, 2019 – Final Approval Hearing – when they decide to approve the settlement
January 22, 2020 – Initial Claims Period Deadline – This is the deadline for you to file a claim.
January 22, 2024 – Extended Claims Period Deadline – This is the deadline for you to file a claim to get benefits for losses that occurred after the initial claims deadline.
How to Check Eligibility
Are you eligible? (yes, probably)
But you can check via the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website by entering your Last Name and Last 6 Digits of Your Social Security Number.
If you are impacted, you'll see this:
If you were not impacted, you'll see this:
Funny aside, there is someone named Wang with 123456 as the last six digits of their Social!
Filing a Claim
If you are impacted, click the File a Claim Online. You can also download a claim form and mail it to:
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418
Or have the claim form mailed to you by filling out this form.
The first part of the form asks for your contact information and date of birth.
Next, you have to decide whether you want Credit Monitoring or if you want the Cash Payment. You can only claim the cash payment if you already have credit monitoring and will have it for at least 6 months from today. If you select Option 2 (Cash Payment), you can't also get the free monitoring offered in the settlement. You are certifying on a legal document that you have credit monitoring so if you don't, you can always buy a service like Identity Guard. Or Credit Karma monitors your credit too. As does a litany of other services.
(If you're like me, you probably already have “paid” identity theft protection as a result of some other data breach!)
The next page asks about whether you've had to spend time dealing with fraud as a result of this breach. If you claim 10 hours or less, you have to describe the actions you took and the time spent on each action. If you claim more than 10, you must describe it and also include supporting documents that show the fraud, theft, or other misuses.
I didn't claim any time but I've seen a discussion on Reddit in which are claiming time setting up a password management system like LastPass) and taking steps to freeze their credit reports. If it's
Finally, the form asks you to list any money you spent or lost as a result, including proof. Then you sign it, send it, and wait.
It's never good to have your data stolen but when the safe offers to give you $125 as an “I'm sorry,” it makes it a little more palatable.