You may remember the Equifax security breach in 2017. If you don’t, here’s a refresher:
In late 2017, Equifax announces a cybersecurity breach that jeopardized the personally identifiable information of nearly 150 million people. Names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and identification were all compromised.
This week in July 2019, Equifax settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to resolve several investigations and a consumer class-action lawsuit. That settlement of $575–700 million contains a hefty consumer restitution fund to repay those affected by the breach.
This is to say that if your identity was compromised in the Equifax security breach, you’re entitled free credit monitoring or $125.
How to See If Your Information Was Compromised
The Equifax breach affected nearly half of the US population. So, there’s a roughly 50% chance that your identity was compromised. To see if your information was compromised—and if you’re eligible for restitution—you can use this simple tool:
Look-up tool for Equifax data breach settlement eligibility.
All you need to do is enter your last name and the last six digits of your SSN. The look-up tool will quickly let you know if your information was endangered. If it wasn’t, then congratulations! Your identity is relatively safe.
However, if your information was endangered, there are still some silver linings. You may choose either a minimum of four years of credit monitoring (maximum of ten) or a $125 cash payment.
How to Receive Free Credit Monitoring
If you meet eligibility, you can receive at least four years of credit monitoring through Experian. Equifax may extend that monitoring an additional six years. Ten years of credit monitoring is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
You may file a claim here and choose the credit monitoring option. If you don’t already have credit monitoring set up, this will minimize your risk from the Equifax security breach.
Many credit cards, Intuit’s Mint app, and Credit Karma all offer free credit monitoring. You may already have it without knowing it. It’s certainly worth looking into, as redundant credit monitoring may not be helpful. On the other hand, $125 certainly might be…
How to Receive a $125 Cash Settlement
If you already have credit monitoring set up, you may opt for a $125 cash payment. In this case, “cash” isn’t entirely accurate—you’ll actually choose between a prepaid card and a check. Still, you get what it means.
You may file a claim here and choose the cash payment option if you already have credit monitoring. While $125 might not be adequate restitution for improperly protecting your personal information, it’s hard to say no to a Benjamin.
If You Spent Time and Money Recovering from the Equifax Security Breach…
With more than half of American adults affected by the Equifax security breach, you can be sure that not everyone’s information has been used by hackers and identity thieves. There are just too many identities out there. You’re somewhat protected by the sheer volume of available identities out there.
Unfortunately, not everyone whose data was compromised has been unaffected. Many people have spent considerable time and money recovering from issues that have arisen from the security breach. Others have suffered losses associated with identity theft resulting from the breach.
If you’ve been significantly impacted from the breach, then you’re entitled to up to $20,000 in compensation. The claim process is a little more complicated, and you’ll need to provide paperwork to prove your claim.
So, if you’ve incurred monetary losses from the Equifax security breach, you may be able to recuperate.
Deadlines and Other Information
Especially if you’re filing a larger claim, you might feel rushed. Don’t sweat it. You’ve got until January 22nd, 2020 to complete your claim. That should give you plenty of time to get your paperwork in order.
Additionally, if you paid Equifax for credit monitoring following the breach, you may be partially reimbursed for your subscription payment.
The prospect of identity theft and compromised personal information is particularly stressful in our digital age. Ideally, the Equifax security breach would never have happened. Or, failing that, one would certainly hope that there’d be a better way of securing your identity than credit monitoring.
But I guess we’ve got to take what we can get. And if we can get ten years of free credit monitoring or $125 for our worries? Well… I suppose that’ll do.
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