Back in 2017, a data breach at Equifax put more than 145 million peoples private information at risk by compromising their Social Security numbers and other personal information.
Just a few days ago, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had reached a settlement deal with Equifax and a few other key organizations in this incident to compensate victims of this breach.
Noone is quite sure what the settlement amount really is at this point with some websites stating $425 million and others saying up to $700 million. None of this will really be determined until around January 2020.
But the good news is you don’t have to wait to ensure your family is compensated if your info was mishandled.
You can begin submitting claims for benefits under the settlement at this very moment.
All claims must be filed by January 22nd, 2020.
There are really two options at this point: a cash reimbursement of $125 (could go up to $20,000) or 6 months of credit monitoring.
Are You Even Eligible?
The first thing you have to do is determine whether or not you were affected.
(Sidenote: You should repeat these steps for everyone in your household born before May 13, 2017.)
You will want to check each person’s eligibility by clicking here.
You will then enter your last name and the final 6 digits of your Social Security number.
From there, it will be determined whether or not you were impacted and are eligible to file a claim. Your screen should look like this if you’re eligible.
Filing A Claim
The easiest way to file a claim for the Equifax Data Breach Settlement is to use the file a claim button shown in the photo above, however, you may also submit a paper claim form.
Once you tap the File A Claim button, you will be taken to this screen where you will enter your info:
Again, you need to repeat each of these steps for everyone in your household born before May 13, 2017.
You will have to actually submit the claim for minors through the mail.
Download the necessary claims form for minors by clicking here
Just follow the simple directions on the form and you should be good to go.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Reimbursement
Again, keep in mind that you can decide to take credit monitoring services or $125 if you already have credit monitoring services in place that you will keep for at least 6 months.
You will make that choice on a screen that looks like this:
If you choose the credit monitoring services, you will receive coverage first by Experian for all 3 credit bureaus for 4 years. This is worth about $1,200.
Equifax will also provide another 6 years of monitoring services which is valued at around $720.
You choose this by selecting option 1 on the screen shown above.
Here’s the thing about the cash payment: you have to certify that you have credit monitoring services already and will keep it for at least 6 months from the date you submit the claim.
But don’t let that scare you!
You may have credit monitoring services if you’ve used a service like Credit Karma or even through your bank.
If you aren’t paying for a credit monitoring service, you can sign up for Credit Karma absolutely free by clicking here and that should suffice.
Time Spent Payment
Equifax will also pay you $25 per hour that you spent working to recover or even protect yourself from the data breach.
You will be shown the following screen:
If you took any of the following actions, you may qualify for the additional compensation:
- Time spent on fraud or identity theft recovery caused by the Equifax Data Breach.
- Any time spent placing and removing credit freezes on your credit reports
- Time spent purchasing credit monitoring services
- Any time spent avoiding fraud or identity theft because of the data breach
Now you have to pay attention to this next part.
If you are claiming that you spent less than 10 hours or less, you only need to describe whatever you did and each time that you did it.
If you claim more than 10 hours of time spent, you absolutely must provide documentation which shows what you did as a result of the data breach.
The maximum you can claim is 20 hours.
Did The Equifax Breach Cost You Money?
If you lost or spent money related to the Equifax data breach, you may be able to claim up to $20,000.
Claiming additional losses is actually the next step in the process.
Below are just a few of the common items you can be reimbursed for if you incurred them after September 7, 2017.
- Credit monitoring or identity theft protection services you paid for.
- Money spent placing or removing a freeze on your credit report.
- Misc. expenses like notaries, postage, copies made, and mileage expenses.
- Any professional fees associated with dealing with identity theft, fraud, or even falsified tax returns.
A few more items you may be reimbursed for are:
- Expenses and losses you paid on or after May 13, 2017 due to identity theft or fraud, falsified tax returns, or misuse of your personal information.
- Up to 25% reimbursement of any fees you paid to Equifax for credit monitoring or an identity theft protection subscription between September 7, 2016 and September 7, 2017.
If you have any expenses that you would like to apply to have reimbursed, you may contact the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982.
If you don’t have any expenses, just skip this section altogether.
How To Get Paid
Before I get into payment options, I want to encourage you to share this post with all of your family and friends.
Just about half of American citizens were affected during the Equifax data breach and people need to know they have options before time is out.
Speaking of options, you have two options when it comes to getting paid: a mailed check or a prepaid card.
I personally chose the check which must be cashed within 90 days.
However, if you would like the card it’s important to note that the card does not expire.
Whatever works best for you is what you should take.
After that, a page will pop-up asking you to verify everything you’ve entered.
Make sure there are no mistakes because once it’s submitted, you can’t change anything.
Next there will be a claim summary page with a claim number.
Make sure you print this page or at least screenshot it and save it just in case you need it later.
Keep in mind that payments may not be issued until the year 2020 so keep that confirmation number in a safe place.
The Equifax data breach has stolen peace of mind from a lot of American citizens.
To try and help with this, you are also eligible FREE identity restoration services for the next 7 years whether you get the cash payment or not.. This will come in handy if someone uses your personal information to actually steal your identity.
I’m a huge fan of identity restoration services as they come with an identity theft specialist who will provide step by step guidance and save you a ton of time.
You’ll need to contact the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 for instructions on how to access the free identity restoration services.
Also, starting in 2020, all U.S. consumers can get 6 free credit reports per year for 7 years from the Equifax website.
This is in addition to the one free report I recommend you get annually from AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you have any questions regarding the Equifax data breach settlement that haven’t been answered here, you can always check out their FAQ section.
Again, make sure you share this info with all of your family and friends.
With so many Americans being affected, you just never know who can or even already has been affected.