If you have been connected to the news world in the last 2 weeks, you have undoubtedly seen everyone talking about making a quick $125 by going to claim your portion of the settlement from Equifax’s 2017 data breach (Reminder, Equifax had one of the largest data breaches in history with an over 147 million consumers affected). As a part of the $700 million settlement with the FTC, Equifax has set aside $300 million (plus an additional $125 million if necessary) to compensate consumers affected by the data breach. It takes less than 10 minutes to file the claim. So, as the media was asking a few days ago, what are you waiting for? Well, for those who waited just a couple of days to get a clearer picture of the settlement, it is now clear that the funds set aside for the simple $125 claim are nowhere near enough for everyone to get that amount. I know, I am as shocked as you are.
You see, of the funds set aside to help affected consumers, most of those dollars are earmarked for individuals who can prove that they have been impacted by the data breach (spent time repairing their identity, paid for credit monitoring services, etc.). There was only $31 million set aside for individuals who already have credit monitoring and are trying to claim the $125. In order for individuals to receive $125 each, only 248,000 people would file for this credit over the 10 years of free credit monitoring being offered. 248,0000 is less than 0.2% of the population affected. If everyone filed for the same claim, you could receive as little as $0.21. Don’t spend it all in one place.
So, what should you do? Here is the layout:
- First, navigate to https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/ and scroll down a little to the button that says, “Find out if your information was impacted”. That is where you will enter your Last Name and the Last 6 digits of your Social Security Number to see if you were impacted as a part of the data breach.
- If you were impacted, go back to the link above and click on “File a Claim Today” and then “File a Claim Online”. From here you can follow the prompts on-screen to begin filing your claim. Your options are laid out on the FTC website, but I’ll summarize quickly here:
- File for 4 years of free credit monitoring across the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) + an additional 6 years of monitoring on your Equifax credit report. OR
- File for the cash option of what will undoubtedly be less than $125. AND
- You can also file for reimbursement of the expenses that you have incurred as a result of the breach (cost of freezing and unfreezing credit reports, credit monitoring you have paid for, attorney’s fees, etc.). AND
- File for compensation of the time you have spent dealing with the credit breach. You will be compensated $25 per hour up to 20 hours. Be prepared to provide detail and possibly documentation on this.
What do you do if you already filed for the cash payment and you wish to change your mind? Look for an email from the settlement administrator who will give you the opportunity to switch.
In additional news to make you feel safe about your own data, Capital One announced that in March of this year, a hacker gained access to personal information from credit card applications from 2005 to early 2019.
Both of these events should serve as reminders to be diligent about safeguarding your personal data. If you are not planning on taking out any loans (or refinancing with rates dropping), it might be a good idea to place credit freezes with each of the credit bureaus. I’ve listed the locations of where to place a credit freeze at each of the bureaus below to the extent that you need it:
- Equifax: https://help.equifax.com/s/article/How-do-I-place-temporarily-lift-or-permanently-remove-a-security-freeze
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
Good luck with the claims process on the Equifax settlement, and remember, the next time someone tells you painless way to make a quick $125, there may be a bit more to the story.
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Want to talk through the details around placing a security freeze, or other best practices for protecting your own data? Feel free to give me a call.
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