EQUIFAX Breach Settlement: How To Claim Your Share
Two years after Equifax’s massive data breach affecting over 140 million people, the credit bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have agreed to a $700 million settlement. The money will be split between government fines, legal fees, and consumer fees. According to the FTC’s press release, $425 million will be set aside to help people affected by the data breach.
Individual consumers may be able to claim up to $20,000 in compensation for damages from the breach if they can prove they were harmed. This payment can be made for expenses you paid as a result of the breach including unauthorized charges, the cost of freezing your credit file, credit monitoring service costs, attorney fees, postage fees, and more.
The FTC also says you may be compensated for your time. Depending on the circumstances, you can get $25 per hour up to 20 hours. You must be able to describe the actions you took during each hour and how long each activity took. If you are claiming more than ten hours, you must also provide documents that show identity theft or fraud.
The settlement also provides free credit monitoring for up to ten years for all breach victims. If you already have credit monitoring, you may request $125 instead.
To file a claim, you must first check to see if your information was exposed in the Equifax breach. You can check your eligibility by visiting eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/en/eligibility.
Once you have confirmed that you have been affected you can begin to file your claim online. You will first be asked to sign up for free credit monitoring or select a cash payment if you already have credit monitoring and promise to keep if for the next six months.
If you have spent time or money in response to the breach, you will move onto the next section. Here you may be asked for documentation depending on your claim. You should be prepared to show any account statements with unauthorized charges, receipts for freezing or unfreezing your credit report after September 7, 2017, receipts of professional fees, and any other applicable information.
If you have been affected by the Equifax breach, you should file your claim as soon as possible. The deadline is January 22, 2020. Benefits will not be sent out until this date as well.
Even if you do not file a claim, you are eligible for free help recovering from identity theft for seven years. You can call 1-833-759-2982 if you experience identity theft. You are also eligible to request six free credit reports per year from the Equifax website starting in 2020.