Equifax Data Breach Settlement – How to Claim Your Money

Equifax Data Breach FTC Settlement

Equifax Data Breach – How to Claim $125 or More in the FTC Settlement

Equifax Inc.reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as penalty for the 2017 data breach in which the financial and personal data of 147 million people data was taken by hackers. Affected consumers will be able to receive up to $20,000 as part of the FTC settlement. This is part of the settlement Equifax reached with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the 48 states that sued Equifax. Indiana and Massachusetts are still pursuing their own lawsuits.

Why the Equifax Settlement Probably Won’t Get You $125

Of the $700 million settlement amount, only $425 million is set aside for payments to consumers. The remaining $275 million pays for penalties and credit monitoring. The fees paid to consumers is capped at $20k maximum. As a result, if every one of the 147 million hacked victims applied for payment, each person would only receive 21 cents. The settlement is still waiting for approval by Federal Courts. The earliest any benefits would be released for payment is January 23, 2020.

In 2017 Equifax was hacked in one of the most massive data breaches in US history. The financial details of 147 million US consumers was stolen when hackers breached Equifax’s server from May through July 2017. Equifax had advanced warning about their IT system’s vulnerabilities in October 2016 when cyber security researchers gained shell access to their servers. A previous, smaller cyber attack occurred in March 2017. Hackers breached Equifax servers and stole about 147 million names, birthdates, and addresses including 145.5 million Social Security numbers, and 209,000 payment card numbers. About 700,000, UK consumer records were also hacked.

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The settlement has yet to be approved by the US Federal Courts. Every hacked consumer can apply for ten years of credit monitoring or a $125 payment as part of the settlement. Consumers can also get at least four years of free credit report monitoring at all three credit bureaus and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance.

To collect the Equifax settlement money or enroll in free credit monitoring, victims must sign up online. However, services or money won’t be distributed until the settlement is approved by the courts. So for now consumers are simply registering their interest in receiving benefits.

Consumers may also be eligible for a larger payment. Up to ten hours of time can be reimbursed at the rate of $25 per hour. If you spent time working to monitor or repair your credit file, paid fees to an accountant, or hired an attorney, worked with your bank, or paid to freeze your credit, then Equifax may pay reimburse you up to $250. An additional ten hours ($250) of time may be claimed with sufficient documentation for a total of twenty hours.

If there was actual damage to your credit history as a result of the Equifax hack, then you are eligible to receive up to $20,000 from settlement funds. For example, if you are a victim of identity theft or credit card theft, then you can file a claim and receive a larger reimbursement. For example, fraudulent transactions, fees paid, or attorney’s fees can be reimbursed.

Remember all of these details of compensation still must be approved by the courts. For now consumers can register their intent to file a claim. This settlement is for every adult member of your household. If your children have jobs or bank accounts and are under eighteen years years old in May 2017, then they are eligible for eighteen years of free credit monitoring.

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What is Equifax?

Equifax is a credit reporting company that reports on consumer financial health and sells data to those requesting reports. Participation in monitoring by Equifax isn’t something that people volunteer for or sometimes even want. Equifax keeps track of peoples’ credit card accounts, bank accounts, mortgages, car loans, personal loans, and any other kind of financial activity. The company has extensive data on US consumers including birthdates, people who live in a household, property ownership, income, social security numbers, drivers’ licenses, and other highly sensitive information.

Equifax Data Breach 2017

The Equifax data breach of 2017 occurred from May until July 2017. Data from 147 million consumers was stolen by hackers. Twenty thousand Canadians and 500,000 British citizens were also victims in the cyber attack. Equifax was sued by all 50 US states as well as the FTC.

Equifax had warnings that their IT systems were vulnerable to hackers. They were the target of a smaller cyber attack in March 2017. Prior to that, the company was warned by cyber security researchers after were able to establish root access to corporate servers.

Equifax may also be fined under GDPR regulations and receive additional penalties from the European Union for the data breach. It remains one of the largest data breaches in US history.

To File an Equifax Settlement Claim, visit the
claims website

If you opt to accept the cash settlement or the ten years of free credit monitoring in lieu of cash, you are relinquishing your right to take further legal action against Equifax. You can, however, request additional settlement money if you experience financial losses in the future, if there is any money left in the settlement finds.

“If there is still money in the Consumer Restitution Fund after all initial payments, there will be an “Extended Claims Period” which will allow you to make certain claims for Out-of-Pocket Losses or Time Spent that happen after the initial claims deadline. All such claims must be made by 01/22/2024 and will be paid on a first-come-first-served basis,” states the Equifax website.

If you’d prefer to reserve your right to take legal action against Equifax, you must mail Equifax a “request for exclusion” by November 19, 2019.

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a historical record of a person’s or organization’s banking and financial activity. Credit reports include any loan that a person may have such as student loans, car loans, mortgages, business loans, or anything else associated with money. A credit report also contains information about income, property, and other assets.

There are three major credit report monitoring agencies;Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All three companies keep track of everything in a person’s financial life since the first time they opened a bank account.

Credit file information is accessed and recorded anytime someone applies for a credit card, bank loan, and even some types of insurance. Participation in the credit history reporting is not voluntary. It can be difficult to have credit history errors fixed. Credit report is something that you need to keep on top of especially if you plan on applying for a large purchase like a home.

Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers