Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus, last week reached a settlement for up to $700 million related to its major security breach in 2017.
If you were affected by this breach, which exposed the personal information of 147 million people, you could be entitled to compensation. Read on to find out if you may be eligible, how to file a claim and how much you might be entitled to receive.
How to see if you are eligible
Equifax offers a free service that lets you check if your data was affected by the 2017 breach. Here’s a link to Equifax’s secure lookup tool.
Heads up — the site will ask you for the last six digits of your Social Security number. This helps Equifax determine if your information was impacted and if you’re a class member.
If you file a claim, what could your potential compensation look like?
If your information was exposed in the data breach, you can file a claim for free credit monitoring or cash payments. If you opt for credit monitoring, you can get free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. If you already have credit monitoring, you can file a claim for a cash payment of up to $125.
However, it’s worth noting that the $125 cash payments are being paid out from a pool of $31 million. The FTC is now saying many people will get “nowhere near” the full $125 because of how many people have filed and selected the payment option, and is recommending consumers file a claim for free credit monitoring instead.
You may be eligible for additional compensation for time and expenses you paid as a result of the data breach. You might qualify for cash payments of up to $20,000 broken down by the following:
• $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of time spent working to resolve issues as a result of the breach
• Reimbursement for expenses you paid as a result of the breach such as losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts or money spent on credit monitoring or freezing and unfreezing your credit reports
• Up to 25% of what you paid for Equifax credit or identity monitoring products the year before the data breach was announced
If you’re eligible, how can you file a claim?
If your data was compromised by the 2017 breach, Equifax has a dedicated site to let you file a claim.
If you’re eligible for compensation of up to $125, you’ll need to already have credit monitoring that will continue for at least six more months. You may have credit monitoring through Credit Karma and can check your account to confirm.
And if you think you’re eligible for compensation beyond the $125, you’ll want to think about compiling additional information before filing your claim. This could include expenses you paid for enrolling in a credit monitoring service or the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit reports.
What can you do next to help keep your data more secure online?
If news about Equifax’s data breach settlement has you thinking about keeping your data secure, we’ve got some tips that could help you reduce your risk online.
1. Keep passwords secure. Try not to use the same password across many sites. If you use the same password for multiple accounts and one of them is exposed or compromised, that could leave your other accounts vulnerable. To help keep track of all your passwords, you might consider using a password manager.
2. Add multifactor authentication. For an added layer of security, think about putting two-factor authentication in place for any site or account that offers it. This will require you to first log in with your password, then confirm your identity by entering a code often sent to you via email or text.
3. Monitor your credit reports and consider a credit freeze. You can ask the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to freeze or lock your credit reports at any time. You can also get free credit monitoring if you’re a Credit Karma member. We’ll notify you if we notice important changes on your Equifax® or TransUnion® credit reports so you can check for suspicious activity.