By Tracey Dowdy
Over 147 million Americans were affected by the 2017 Equifax Data breach. If you are one of those millions – you can check here – you can now file a claim to recover money you spent or lost as a result. Additionally, as part of the settlement, you file to recover money you spent to protect yourself from identity theft and/or on credit monitoring following the breach.
The breach was a serious violation of user’s privacy with hackers exposing consumer’s personal information including their driver’s license information, social security numbers, and birthdates.
Back in July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Equifax reached an agreement for Equifax to pay at least $575 million and up to $700 million for victims. Under the terms of the settlement, you can file a claim for compensation for costs incurred recovering from the security breach as well as any costs related to identity theft or freezing/unfreezing your account, and for any unauthorized charges to your banking accounts. The one caveat for those filing for losses to be aware of is that the agreement caps payouts at $20,000 per person.
Victims also have the option of filing a claim to cover the expense of protecting yourself from identity theft following the breach. In fact, you can file multiple claims, and if you have already signed up for credit monitoring, you have the option of filing a claim for $125 in compensation instead.
Be aware the FTC has issued a warning cautioning victims to be aware of fake settlement websites created to dupe victims of the Equifax breach into revealing personal information like birthdates and social security numbers, ultimately victimizing them a second time. Jason Cipriani over at CNET has a great article on how to protect yourself.
To determine if you’re eligible under the terms of the settlement, follow these steps:
- Start by going to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement page to find out if your information was impacted and if you are a class member.
- Enter your last name the last six digits of your social security number.
- You’ll immediately be told if your data was compromised and you’ll be directed to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website to file a claim.
- You have the option to file online or have a claim form mailed to you.
- The final step is to determine which benefits you are eligible for by gathering documentation to support your claim. This includes any bank or credit card statements detailing unauthorized charges, any costs related to freezing/unfreezing your account, or payments made to lawyers or accountants to recover your losses.
- If you signed up for a credit monitoring service as a result of the Equifax breach, you are eligible for a cash payment of $125. Note this is in addition – not in place of – filing for compensation for losses incurred.
For details or a full explanation of the settlement, go to the FTC’s Equifax Data Breach Settlement page here.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.