Equifax has reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to reimburse $575 million to the victims as the minimum compensation for the database breach. The settlement amount can go as high as $700 million. People eligible for this vast sum include those who lost their money as a result of this security hack.
Besides the stolen money, these costs also include the costs of freezing and unfreezing your credit. It also consists of the costs of recovery from identity theft. So, you can submit a claim to gain back the amount incurred to safeguard yourself from the unauthorized use of your account.
Before you get started, you must determine whether or not your information was compromised during this database hack. If your information was hacked, you should collect receipts as well as other documents as proof of your out-of-pocket expenses and losses. After gathering these documents, you will be in a position to file your compensation claim.
The FTC has stated that due to the massive public response for this settlement, the cash amount you may obtain for monitoring may fall well below $125. You must also ensure that you visit the legitimate site for securing a settlement. The FTC has issued a warning that fake websites have been set up to defraud unsuspecting victims.
You might win your share of the settlement amount if you file for a claim by January 22, 2020.
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Big Data Breach
The Equifax database hack is among the most significant credit card breaches in history. As a result of this breach, hackers were able to steal sensitive financial information of the victims.
This information included social security numbers, driver’s license information, credit card numbers, birthdates, addresses as well as other kinds of personal data stored on Equifax’s servers.
The FTC launched an investigation to reveal grim information concerning the fraud. The organization found that the credit bureau did not carry out reasonable network security measures.
But, What if You Were Not Affected by the Equifax Security Breach?
What if your account was neither hacked nor was any money or information stolen? In this case, you will not qualify for financial compensation. But, you will be entitled to 7 years of free credit reports, thanks to the terms of the settlement.
How Much Will Equifax Pay?
However, the Equifax settlement is not as straightforward as most people would like to imagine. Keep in mind that the precise settlement amount has not yet been reached. This settlement will commence with a $300 million amount to compensate the affected individuals who purchased credit-monitoring services.
Equifax is also liable to pay a hefty $175 million amount to districts and states. In addition to this, the company will also pay an additional $100 million amount (civil penalties) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The FTC has mentioned that if the initial $300 million fund is inadequate for compensating the affected consumers, then the amount will be increased. Equifax will contribute a further $125, which means that the full amount of the payments can go as high as $700 million.
If you have decided to file a claim, then your settlement might include identity-theft protection and credit monitoring services. You may also have the right to claim compensation for expenses incurred due to the breach, such as credit monitoring and legal fees.
You must first check if your data was hacked. The official settlement site offers an online tool, which can help you to verify if your account was hacked. To check this information, enter the last 6 digits of your SSN, as well as your last name.
If you find that your account was indeed affected by the security breach, then you should file your claim on the official settlement site.
Here are the steps involved:
- You must prove all the expenses that had been incurred as a consequence of the security hack. Collect all relevant receipts and documents as evidence.
- According to the FTC’s suggestions, you should sign up to receive email updates concerning the settlement.
- You can also regularly visit the official pages to obtain the latest news about the settlement. For any queries, you can also call the official FTC number: (833) 759-2982.
- Visit the official site for filing an online claim.
- There are also instructions on the website for sending a claim through the mail. You can also request the FTC to mail you a claim form.
- You must then specify the benefits that you are entitled to get. Review the documents that must be submitted to substantiate your claim. These documents must be related to expenses incurred as a result of the breach, such as fees paid for identity theft recovery, costs of freezing and unfreezing the online account, unauthorized transactions, as well as other related expenses.
What Is Covered by the Equifax Settlement?
The settlement will pay a maximum amount of $20,000 to people affected by this incident. This will cover the following:
- Unauthorized transactions
- Credit monitoring costs that may go up to $125
- Expenses due to freezing of your credit report
- Fees paid to attorneys, accountants, as well as other professionals
- Costs for notary, mileage, postage and other similar services
- Equifax credit monitoring costs and related service expenses during the year before the breach
As part of the settlement, starting in 2020, Equifax will offer customers 6 free credit reports every year for up to 7 years. This free service will also be given to customers who were unaffected by the breach.
Affected customers may also be entitled to credit monitoring services for up to 4 years from Experian. This service will provide credit report surveillance for all 3 major credit card bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. At the end of 4 years, you will also be entitled to an option for 6 more years of free credit monitoring by Equifax.
Take note that you cannot file for both the $125 cash payment and credit monitoring services. Although you can submit your claim as late as January 22, 2020, you should register as early as possible for the quickest possible settlement. The FTC has stated that you may receive benefits on January 23, 2020, at the earliest.
There is also another essential factor that you must consider. Should you opt for the $125 cash amount or the free credit monitoring service? Which option will provide you with the most benefits?
In case you feel tempted to go for the $125 cash amount, keep in mind that the FTC announced that the actual amount received may be below $125, as a consequence of the tremendous response.
In case you have already paid for a credit monitoring service, you should definitely settle for the $125 amount. Here are the options at your disposal.
Receive the amount after subscribing to monitoring for 6 months and keep the remainder after 6 months.
To receive $125, you must confirm that you are utilizing a credit monitoring service during the date that the claim has been submitted. You must further affirm that you will retain it for 6 months. Credit reporting services costs may range between $10 and $30 per month. You can also choose some free credit reporting services. However, if you select one of these services, then you may be entitled to just $60.
Subscribe to credit monitoring services for 10 years. Although $125 appears to be a reasonable sum, you can save much more money through this option. Credit monitoring services for up to 10 years can range between $1,200 and $3,600. Don’t forget that this option will become more lucrative, since the FTC may probably allow payments well under $125.
This was a big breach, and I think we’ll continue to hear more and more details about it. But for now, it might make sense to submit a claim and get some compensation if you’ve been impacted.
You can make your decision, depending on your circumstances. If you want hard cash benefits, then you should go for the $125 cash payment option. But if you wish to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft for the next 10 years, then you will gain much more with the second option. The second option will offer great peace of mind as well as secure you against identity theft and fraud, which seem to be increasing with each passing year.
But no matter which option you take, you will still be eligible to file claims to receive other benefits.