Equifax data breach: Your $125 settlement, scam websites and other news you need to know
On July 22, 2019, a federal court began to consider a proposed class action settlement from Equifax. If approved by the court, the settlement would resolve lawsuits brought by consumers after the data breach.
There’s no doubt that you’ve seen Equifax’s name in the news a lot in the past two years. In September of 2017, the consumer credit reporting agency experienced a massive data breach that put the personal and financial information of about 147 million people at risk – one of the largest data breaches in history.
In July, Equifax set up an official website for those affected by the breach to file claims. Claimants have three compensation options from the breach:
- Free credit monitoring or up to $125 cash payment
- Cash payments up to $20,000 if you can prove you spent time remedying identity theft or fraud from the data breach (up to 20 total hours at $25 per hour). You can also receive cash from any out-of-pocket losses from the data breach. Equifax will pay up to 25 percent of the cost of its credit or identity monitoring products you paid for in the year before the data breach announcement
- Free identity restoration services for at least seven years to help remedy the effects of fraud and identity theft
Are you really going to get the $125?
The majority of claimants are going to want the $125 cash. You may have even already filed your claim. But, because the pool for the settlement is capped at $31 million and demand was so high, most people are not going to get anywhere near $125, according to Penn Live Patriot-News.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that consumers are going to be disappointed with the final cash payout they receive. They are also encouraging everyone to choose the free credit monitoring option instead of the cash payout.
You still have time to choose the free credit monitoring option
According to CNN Business, consumers who have already requested the $125 will soon be contacted by the third-party administrator handling the Equifax settlement claims. This administrator will offer consumers the chance to switch from the check to free credit monitoring services. According to Equifax, the free credit monitoring services consist of:
- At least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring, offered through Experian. You can also get up to six more years of free one-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax.
Beware of scam websites
If you haven’t filed a claim with Equifax yet, remember that scammers are super adept and mimicking the URLs and coding from popular websites and building bogus copycat sites to steal your identity. Make sure you’re not getting scammed. Visit this page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website to access the correct Equifax claim site.
The FTC also wants to remind you that you’ll never have to pay money to file a claim for these benefits. Anyone who calls to try to get you to file a claim is most certainly a scammer.