Update 8/2/19: This article was originally written on 7/26/19. Since the FTC announcement, most people have opted for the cash option. I was originally skeptical as there is language in Equifax’s fine print that says “up to $125.” They now recommend people to take the 10 years free credit monitoring option instead, as people will not be receiving close to the $125 amount now. If you’ve already filed for cash, you can still switch to the other option. Look out for an email from the settlement administrator for instructions.
Earlier this week, Equifax settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the 2017 data breach (one of the largest in history) that affected 147 million Americans.
That’s basically half of the U.S. population. Thanks for playing around with our data, Equifax.
That breach allowed personal identifiable information to leak such as:
- Social Security numbers
- Birth dates
- Driver’s license numbers (though not in all cases)
They’re agreeing to pay $700 million so if you were part of the data breach like I was, there are steps you can take to claim $125 for compensation or other options listed below.
Monetarily, it’s not much, and really, Equifax should owe the affected way more for their poor security along with causing stress and panic to half the population. But if you’re owed $125, there’s no reason not to claim it.
Not sure if you’re one of the affected? Use this look up tool to easily check.
Here’s what you can file a claim for:
1. Free credit monitoring up to 10 years or $125
If you go the free credit monitoring route, you will get at least four years credit monitoring at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) along with $1M of identity theft insurance.
You’ll also get up to six more years of free monitoring on the Equifax credit report, which brings your total up to 10 years. Minors affected will get a total of 18 years.
What’s the value of the monitoring? Experian lists on their site that the lowest plan is $19.99 a month.
If you already have credit monitoring, or just want the cash payment instead, then pick the $125.
2. More cash payments (up to $20,000 per person)
If you spent money because of the breach, you could get some of it back.
- Money lost from unauthorized charges to your accounts
- The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
- The cost of credit monitoring
- If you paid any fees to pros like an accountant or attorney
- Other expenses
They will also compensate you for the TIME you spent dealing with the breach which is $25 per hour up to 20 hours.
I submitted a claim for one hour for the time it took to research and sign up for credit freezes.
Claiming more than 10 hours will require you to provide support docs, so be sure you have them to back it up!
At the end of the form, you’ll choose between getting a check which must be cashed within 90 days after receiving or a pre-paid card.
DEADLINE to file your Equifax claim is January 22, 2020
Eligible participants won’t get their payment until after the deadline date, but it’s better to file sooner rather than later.
Readers should note that while the FTC Settlement Page says “$125 cash payment,” the Equifax Settlement FAQs (Question #10) in addition to their form says “up to $125.” In fact, it says both “up to” and definitively $125, which makes it confusing.
This could be a way to safeguard themselves depending on the amount of total people that actually file a claim to get the $125.
As of now, I expect to get a check of $125 + $25 (one hour time spent) for a total of $150. I won’t know if I’ll actually get that amount since there are inconsistent qualifiers regarding the “up to” but everyone affected should definitely file a claim.