Summary of the Equifax Data Breach Settlement
Dena Standley | November 29, 2022
Summary: In response to Equifax's massive data breach in 2017, you should have received information if you signed up for this service a couple of years ago. According to the Federal Trade Commission, activation instructions should be included in the email or letter. Here is more on the benefits to expect.
After five years, Equifax victims are finally beginning to receive updates about their upcoming settlement payments for the massive breach five years ago. Class-action settlement recipients were notified by February 25, 2022, about their eligibility and payment options through emails sent by the claim's administrator. You may have a ticket for free credit monitoring for four years if you receive this email.
Here's a summary of what to expect. But first,
A brief history of Equifax's data breach settlement
In September 2017, Equifax announced that 147 million people's personal information had been compromised. Approximately 50 U.S. states and territories and the Federal Trade Commission reached a global settlement with the company.
Following the event, up to $425 million was allocated to help affected individuals. Names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, and credit card number details contained in that data could be used for identity theft.
The FTC alleged Equifax's lax security contributed to the breach in a court case in 2019. As part of the settlement, Equifax agreed to the following:
- Up to $20,000 in payouts (limited in most cases to $125)
- Monitoring your credit for free
- Protection against identity theft
- Compensate the government for court costs and fines
Quite a bit of money, huh? How much is my share?
Here's where the action slows down a little. There were a lot of claimants, so the payouts were capped at $125 per person, but you may receive less. The payment has yet to begin, and the deadline for filing claims is January 22, 2024. Payouts are to start soon after.
The following expenses may still be claimed if they are incurred between January 23, 2020, and January 22, 2024:
- Account losses from unauthorized charges.
- Professional fees you pay to recover from identity theft, such as accountants or attorneys.
- Incurred notary fees, shipping charges, mileage, and phone calls while recovering from identity theft.
- The time you spent recovering from identity theft or fraud.
Timeline of Equifax settlements
You can find the most recent version of the lawsuit here, which describes the specific legal claims alleged by the plaintiffs. But here is a summary of the timeline:
- July 2019: The Federal Trade Commission announces Equifax has agreed to pay at least $575 million, with the possibility of paying up to $700 million.January 2020: The court approves the Settlement (FTC)
- Settlement amount: It will cost $425 million to settle Equifax's breach.
- January 2022: Finalization of the FTC settlement
- February 2022: Consumers who opt for free credit monitoring services receive activation codes from the settlement administrator. (Equifax Breach Settlement)
- Fall 2022: The settlement administrators are releasing benefits to consumers for eligible out-of-pocket expenses related to the data breach or identity theft resulting from the breach, as well as time spent recovering from the data breach (up to 20 hours). An individual who lost money because of identity theft may be eligible to receive up to $20,000. (Equifax Breach Settlement)
Is the settlement applicable to me?
An Equifax Data Breach settlement class member is an individual who was among the approximately 147 million U.S. consumers impacted by the Equifax data breach. To verify whether you are a Settlement Class Member and eligible for benefits, you can:
Go here: www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com
Call the Settlement Administrator toll-free at 1-833-759-2982.
If you have used more than one last name (a maiden name and a married name), please check them when using the above link. Your claim form should be submitted using the last name that received the "impacted" message.
The settlement excludes the following:
- Directors and officers of Equifax.
- Those involved in the lawsuit, including the presiding judge and judicial staff.
- Validly opted-out Class Members
How Equifax data breach settlement benefits you:
The breach may have affected you somehow, and you may qualify for benefits.
1. Cash Payment or Free Credit Monitoring
For at least four years, you will receive free credit monitoring from all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). As a bonus, you will also be able to monitor your Equifax credit report for a further six years for free. This means you'll be able to monitor your credit for ten years. (Even more free credit monitoring is available to minors affected by the breach.)
You may be eligible for money if you maintain credit monitoring for a minimum of six months without enrolling in the settlement's free credit monitoring. You'll get a payout based on how many claims are filed.
2. Payback of your time and other cash payments
A reimbursement and cash payment of up to $20,000 may be available for the following:
- You can claim up to 20 hours that you spent protecting your identity or recovering from identity theft at a rate of $25 per hour.
- Expenses incurred to protect your identity or recover from identity theft, such as freezing or unfreezing your credit report or charging accounts without your permission.
- If you purchased Equifax credit monitoring or identity protection products between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, you could get up to 25% of the cost back.
3. Free restoration of your identity
If your identity is stolen or you experience fraud, you are eligible for free identity restoration services for at least seven years.
Equifax data breach settlement developments
As part of the settlement process, the settlement administrators are reviewing time spent and losses incurred. Your administrator will contact you by email or letter if your claim requires additional information. Equifax Breach Settlement Administrator will send legitimate emails about the settlement from email@example.com.
The settlement administrator also provides additional payment options through email to those eligible for a settlement payment. Please follow the email instructions if you want to change your payment method. As long as you do nothing, you'll receive your compensation according to the method you selected when you made your claim.
If you were affected by the breach, use the look-up tool to confirm your eligibility. You can get free help with identity restoration by calling the phone and engagement numbers on the confirmation page. Until 2026, consumers can get seven free Equifax credit reports from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/.
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